The Visitor

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

23/03/2011 - 26/03/2011

Club Ivy, The Garden Club, 13B Dixon St, Wellington

22/02/2011 - 26/02/2011

Dunedin Fringe 2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details


Tick tock tick tock tick tock…

Nicky is an average, ordinary Kiwi girl… who has a secret that is constantly threatening to take over her life. Mark is a guy she’s met online who comes to her home to meet her for the first time.  Events take a dark turn when Nicky finds herself trapped inside her own home by an overpowering oppressor.  

From the brilliantly twisted minds of Sit ‘n Spin Productions in Christchurch comes a darkly humourous psychological thriller about love, freedom and obsessive compulsive disorder! ‘The Visitor’ will be premiering (thanks to Kakano funding!) at the Wellington Fringe Festival on February 22nd, 2011. Take a trip through this strange and unsettling world where battling OCD takes on a whole new dimension.

Director Kim Georgine describes the show as ‘exciting but creepy as hell’ and warns that due to its disturbing content and nudity, children should stay well away.

The Visitor… how can you escape what’s already inside?

Club Ivy at The Garden Club
22-26 Feb. 2011 9pm
$18/$15 Tix on the door
or from
BATS Theatre

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 Matt Hudson – Actor/Deviser – Man | Julia Guthrey - Actor - Woman (in Dunedin) 
Lizzie Tollemache – Actor/Deviser/Producer – Nicky
Michael Wood – Actor/Deviser – Mark

Kim Georgine – Director/Producer/Deviser
Brendan Albrey – Technical Designer 

1hr 20min


Review by Jennifer Aitken 24th Mar 2011

Christchurch company Sit & Spin Productions have travelled to Dunedin despite the trauma of the last month. Having lost several friends and colleagues when the CTV Building collapsed the team have decided to donate the profits from The Visitor to the CTV Family Trust. As a further consequence of the recent quake The Visitor has been recast as some of their actors have been relocated out of Christchurch and others were too badly affected to remain involved in the project. 

As The Visitor begins we meet Nicky (Lizzie Tollemache), meticulously organising and arranging her living room in preparation the arrival of a short, dark and handsome stranger. When this man, Mark (Michael Wood), arrives we slowly learn, through the pair’s fumbled and awkward conversation, that they had met online and this was their first ‘3D’ meeting.

As The Visitor progresses we become increasingly aware that something isn’t quite right and the appearance of another woman (Julia Guthrey), peering in from behind a curtain, confirms our suspicions.

Nicky suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the woman who appears is the personification of this disorder (played as male in the initial season). Throughout the piece the woman taunts and embroils Nicky in conversations lacking insight and reason. The woman ties Nicky up in a tumbling logic that tortures her until she can take no more.

After a restless night’s sleep Nicky rises to get ready for her brunch date with Mark. It is at this point that her disorder drives The Visitor to its dramatic and quite unexpected climax. As the woman strips Nicky of all her clothes and inspects the imperfections of her body, Nicky snaps and what follows is an uncomfortable sequence fraught with the presence of Nicky’s (slightly gratuitous) nudity. 

The Visitor is advertised as a ‘psychological thriller’; a genre that film has mastered with ease. I am not yet convinced that it is a genre the theatre can tackle with such mastery. The narrative in The Visitor is weak and underdeveloped and the conclusion is so unexpected I am convinced it is only half time.

I am left wanting to know what happened with Mark, who Laura is and what happens after Nicky leaves the room. All that can be concluded is that our introduction to Nicky’s disorder is all the play is supposed to be; and all suggestions of narrative are merely afterthoughts injected to create provocations for the woman to torment Nicky over.

The Visitor is obviously created with compassion and care but the limited narrative plagues the piece from the very beginning as all that follows is very limp. However, this is not to say that The Visitor is not an interesting play for I feel that the concept behind it has so much potential.

The actors are talented and Tollemache’s performance is beautifully specific, artful and compassionate. With just a little more time in front of a drawing-board I feel like The Visitor could be a very powerful piece of theatre. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


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Powerful portrayal of a little known phobia

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 01st Mar 2011

Personnel fears and phobias are also [as with Thin Air] at the heart of The Visitor from Sit’n’Spin Productions from Christchurch, playing at The Ivy Club. 

Nicky (Lizzie Tollemache) lives alone somewhere up country in an isolated rural area of NZ. She meets Mark (Michael Wood) online who drives up to meet her. The visit is short as something disturbs Nicky that causes Mark to leave. As Nicky furiously wipes down the chair that Mark was sitting in with disinfectant it becomes clear that she is suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

This is made obvious by the clever device of having the disorder appear as Man (Matt Hudson). The play is then a clash of wills as the Man tries to manipulate Nicky’s life in very dramatic and harrowing ways till she is finally able to take control of the situation. 

This short play powerfully portrays a little known phobia with all three actors giving strong forthright and honest performances. Yet it ends almost all too abruptly. More needs to be made of Nicky taking control to make the production wholly satisfying. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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Artful performance undermined

Review by James McKinnon 24th Feb 2011

The opening scene of The Visitor introduces us to Nicky, who is clearly anxious about the arrival of a stranger. Those who deduce that the anxiety is at least partly romantic get to pat themselves on the back – but the credit really belongs to actor Lizzie Tollemach for giving us just enough clues, through her admirably detailed, specific physical performance, to make this brilliant deduction.

He turns out to be a nice boy, albeit no better at small talk than she is. Apparently Nicky and Mark met online and this is their first 3D encounter. It’s a little awkward, a little tense, but they cope with the awkwardness, and the high stakes hold our interest – Tollemach’s taut, nervous body language makes it clear that she has a lot riding on this, and we want her to succeed.

Something is slightly awry, but it’s not quite clear what – is she nervous about him – or herself? As long as we are interested in guessing what’s really going on, the play works. But five minutes in, the script makes explicit what Tollemach’s artful performance only hints at, when the real visitor appears, the one who is, as the tag line says, “waiting inside.” Unfortunately, this visitor is much less interesting – in fact, he is a dreadful bore. 

Essentially, The Visitor gives Obsessive Compulsive Disorder a human form, one strongly resembling an abusive ex-boyfriend whom no restraining order can hold back. An interesting conceit, perhaps, but not novel – dramatic personifications of abstract ideas date back to the middle ages, and Shaw gave disease a human avatar over a hundred years ago, expressing his scepticism of germ-based pathology in a comedy about a bacteria who catches a cold from a human.

Oddly, The Visitor winds back the clock to the days before subtext was invented, when all conflicts were explicit and internal. This isn’t the problem, though. The problem is that the Visitor, the personification of Nicky’s illness, is boring thug. Matt Hudson makes him genuinely terrifying, but he doesn’t have much to work with here, because the character has only one objective, and no interesting motive. 

Just after the Visitor’s first appearance, I had a moment of déjà vu and realized I had seen a play uncannily like this one a few months ago. It was about a love triangle between a woman, a new love interest, and the ghost of her dead husband, who, like Nicky’s Visitor (who is really a permanent resident) popped up at inopportune moments. But that play was charming and compelling because all the characters were sympathetic, and the play used the ghost as a vehicle to give insight into the widow’s conflicting loyalties. The ghost didn’t want her new relationship to fail – he too was conflicted between his desire to see her happy and his desire to hang around.

In The Visitor, the inner conflict has been externalized, and it is disturbing – Tollemach gets abused to an extent that one worries for her safety – but not interesting. He wants her miserable, she wants to be free – and we want him gone so we can watch the much more interesting relationship between Nicky and Mark. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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