REVIEW: Visitors, Oldham Coliseum Theatre. Runs until Saturday, May 4

PLAYWRIGHT Barney Norris has described his own work as "a hymn to a life-long love".

I can't think of a more fitting description of this story of Wiltshire farming couple Arthur and Edie advancing into their late 70s and their battle to cope with her progressive dementia.

Not a subject for light-hearted comedy, you might think, but this play is beautifully written with some wonderful deft touches of humour which Liz Crowther, playing Edie, exploits to the full in an outstanding performance.

Robin Herford has returned to the Coliseum where he has directed numerous productions also to deliver a very strong performance.

In the story, their son, Stephen, who turned his back on a future as a farmer to work in the insurance business is forced to return to his boyhood home to try to help his parents cope with Edie's illness.

He recruits recent graduate Kate, played by Kitty Douglas, as a live-in carer for Edie, and tellingly the two bond across generations in a very moving and believable way.

Ben Porter, playing Stephen, completes the four-hander, playing a man whose marriage is falling apart and who makes a fool-hardy attempt to go on a date with Kate - a girl of similar age to his own children.

In the programme notes, the writer alludes to the experience of his own grandparents as an influence in the creation of Visitors, and you can see evidence of this in the hilarious barbs which Crowther delivers with expert timing as Edie.

Don't be put off by the dementia subject matter. This is a highly entertaining as well as moving play delivered with skill and sensitivity by a cast well honed by acting artistic director Chris Lawson.

Sammy Dowson's set design and the depiction of a Wiltshire farmhouse was perfect, and hats off to whoever picked the atmospheric music for the time when the theatre was filling up. Did I hear music from that wonderful band I Am Kloot and their signer John Bramwell? Fantastic.