Phil Willmott

The Visit

The Visit THE VISIT is a haunting musical by Kander and Ebb (CHICAGO, CABARET, SCOTTSBORO BOYS) Broadway veteran Chita Rivera elegantly and effortlessly plays a glamorous elderly Jewish woman scheming to take revenge on her home town for the heartbreak and anti-Semitism she faced in her youth. Rodger Rees is surprisingly and thankfully understated and unmannered as the man who broke Chita's heart all those years ago.

There's at least four exceptional songs you know you'll be enjoying for the rest of your life. The whole thing is shot through with the underlying menace of SWEENEY TODD but with an additional melancholy all of its own as appropriate to its themes of death and regret. It's deliciously unnerving and sinister. It also has at its centre that mainstay of classic Broadway, a grand old dame (CHITA) centre stage, in a spotlight.

This production uses an old fringe theatre favourite, rearranging suitcases, to suggest various locations but it's done within the beautiful setting of a derelict pleasure garden pavilion. With its twisted, leafless ivy and unexpected shafts of light illuminating the gloom it's a beautifully autumnal, wistful setting in which to contemplate ageing and death.

I do hope we’ll get to see it in London but it’s a subtle piece and it would work much better in a smaller theatre. Its Broadway home is cavernous and I doubt they’ll sell enough tickets to fill it for long.