REHEARSALS have begun for Oldham Coliseum’s forthcoming production of Barney Norris’s play Visitors which opens on April 18.

It features Robin Herford – best known as the director of The Woman in Black – as Arthur, joined by Liz Crowther as his wife Edie, Ben Porter as their son Stephen and Kitty Doublas as blue-haired singer Kate.

Visitors is an ode to life-long love that encourages us to stop and appreciate the beauty of the every day.

Edie and Arthur have lived together on their farm for the majority of their lives. We meet them as they sit together in their living room reminiscing about the past and contemplating the latest change to come into their lives.

Stephen has hired twenty-something stranger Kate to move in and care for Edie as her mind begins to unravel.

Norris’ compassionate and wryly comic love story depicts the indiscriminate effects of dementia with frankness and light humour and illustrates the challenges facing three different generations.

Visitors premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London in 2014, winning the Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright and Best New Play at the Off West End Awards.

Herford is best known as the director of Steven Mallatratt’s phenomenally successful adaptation of The Woman in Black, which has been running in the West End for 30 years.

Trained as an actor, he started his career in 1976 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and has appeared in the original production of more of Alan Ayckbourn plays than any other actor.

Among his many other acting credits he has also played Arthur Kipps in The Woman in Black in London, Singapore, India, Hong Kong and New Zealand, Frank in Educating Rita at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and appeared in Only Fools and Horses (BBC), Casualty (BBC), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (Thames Television).

Visitors follows the Coliseum’s critically acclaimed 2017 production of The Father (Best Production, Manchester Theatre Awards) in telling stories that highlight the difficult yet universal subject of dementia and its effects on our lives; a theme which is also seen in independent plays in the theatre’s Studio this season with Off The Middle’s In Other Words and Smashing Mirrors Theatre’s forthcoming Three Emos.

Off-stage, the theatre supports people who are living with dementia and their carers by presenting dementia friendly performances each season and running dementia friendly workshops both at the theatre and in local care homes.

Visitors is directed by the Coliseum’s acting artistic director Chris Lawson, whose most recent production A Skull in Connemara received both critical and public acclaim. Designer Sammy Dowson returns to Oldham for the production following 2018’s A Taste of Honey and 2016’s Hard Times.