11 hours. I’ve just counted it. Thats all the time we had to prepare for our rehearsed reading of The Visitor by Peter Lantos at The Park. And it was beautiful. A truly moving and beautiful portrayal of Peter’s very personal play. The cast and crew were an absolute joy to work with. A Director’s Dream. 13 very talented and compassionate actors alongside the dedicated crew threw themselves completely into the short amount of time we had and bonded with each other so much that after the event one actor turned to me and said: “it just doesn’t feel right not to see you all tomorrow.”
I simply don’t have the right words to describe that occurred in the rehearsal room. On the Friday at the usual Epsilon space of the wonderful Shaftesbury Tavern where we began our discovery of the play. Or on the Monday, in the very special Park 90 studio. I was blown away by the incredible skill that actors have. To lift the characters off the page and make them exist so fully, especially in such a short amount of time.
We had a full house at Park 90, a mixture of friends of Epsilon and from within theatre land and of the writer as well as fellow survivors. Whilst work still needs to be done on the play the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Massive thanks to Park for housing us, to my incredible Producer Angie who just makes everything happen, to my assistant director Charlotte who was without question my girl friday, to the incredibly talented designer Mike Lees for not just giving a flavour of the period as i had asked for but for costuming the whole company and to Anne Mayer who first put me in touch with Peter, to Celia who joined us a SM on Monday, and Nadine Rennie for finding an extraordinary team of actors for us.
To the actors – Finlay Robertson, Joanna McCullum, Ana-Maria Maskell, Claire Jared, Kathryn O’Reilly, Simon Hepworth, Jesse Rutherford, Patrick Bailey, Lula Suassuna, Mathew Schmolle, Ralph Ineson and John Last – thank you – it was an utter joy.
To Peter, the writer. I hope it was everything you dreamed it would be.
Check out some fun photos on the event here
More about the play below:
THE VISITOR is a play about shattered dreams, suppressed desire, sibling rivalry and maternal conflict. Despite the utter destruction of their lives, it is also a play about redemption and survival.
The play unfolds against the historical backdrop of the invasion of Hungary by Germany in 1944, sealing the fate of Hungarian Jewry.
Hungary 1938. While the family patriarch, Samuel, is dying in an upstairs bedroom, the Singer family gathers to celebrate the arrival of Adam, their first grandchild, under the stern guidance of the matriarch, Fanny. The family alongside their three daughters and only son have ignored all warning signs of the oncoming War in pursuit of their own individual lives. The sudden arrival of a shabby stranger who warns them of approaching danger derails the celebration and they are forced to confront what they have been hiding from. The next few years sees the demise of the Singer Family in status and safety with devastating consequences. The play paints a painfully realistic picture of what happened to many such people who had lived productive lives as close members of their communities and thought they were safe.
“Your Father believes – believed- that these terrible times would come to an end. In the meantime, we must hold our nerve. We are not the sort of people to run away.”
THE VISITOR marks Peter Lantos’s debut as a playwright.
His well-received autobiographical account of his early life PARALLEL LINES has just been reissued for the fourth time by Arcadia Books and he is also the author of a novel, CLOSED HORIZON.
“Something of genius with the readability of a classic”. Alan Sillitoe of PARALLEL LINES.
“A brilliant and terrifying novel about the fragility of freedom”. Helena Kennedy of CLOSED HORIZON.
Hungarian born, Peter was liberated from Bergen-Belsen at the age of 6. On moving to London in 1968 after studying medicine & specialising in clinical neuroscience Peter was appointed to a prestigious Chair at the Institute of Psychiatry/Maudsley Hospital in London. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001.