The Night Visitors

The Night Visitors, a play by Paul Baker, was commissioned for the Oamaru Scott 100 celebrations.

It is based on the story of two men who rowed ashore from the Terra Nova to telegraph the news of Captain Robert Scott’s death to the world. Sponsorship from a media company gave it first rights to the news so the visit was shrouded in secrecy.

Dr Baker explains in the programme:

Almost everything in the play that happens within the Forrest household is plausible, but fictitious.

Almost Everything that is referred to outside the Forrest household is factual.

The play is set in the home of harbour master Edgar Forrest (Jon Pheloung) and his wife Enid (Caroline Claver) where  Lieutenant Kerr (Richard Huber) and Surgeon Lieutenant Adams (Francis Biggs) come to wait until the telegraph office opens.

Underlying tensions between the Forrests  and their sons,  Jack (Nathan Mudge) and Cecil (Cody McRae), are brought to a head by the arrival of the visitors.

Edgar is in charge of the harbour but Enid rules the home; Jack  is a misfit in his family and small-town Oamaru; there are questions, and questioning, of faith and science; and there’s the unresolved grief over the death from cancer of 12 year-old Emily but “we don’t talk about Emily”.

All this provides drama aplenty but there is also lots of comedy with some very, very funny one-lines, many of which are delivered by Enid.

Baker’s script artfully weaves the intersection of the biggest international news of the day and other historical events  with the domestic drama within the family.

Under the skilful direction of Patrick Davies the actors bring the people and events of the time to life with realism and feeling.

This is a professional performance which I highly recommend.

The Night Visitors opened on Wednesday and has sold-out each night so far.

Performances continue at 4pm and 8pm today and the season concludes at 1pm tomorrow.

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