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Review: Department of Theatre and Dance produces enthralling rendition of ‘The Visit’

As lighthearted as it is dramatic and thoughtful, “The Visit” captivates the audience from start to finish.

Belmont’s Department of Theatre & Dance masterfully captures a poignant and memorable story with a lot of heart in ‘The Visit,’ which opened on Feb. 15. The interpretation of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s 1956 play begins with the nostalgic thrum of a train; from there, audiences are immersed in a plot that explores themes of justice, poverty and morality.

The performances are stellar, from Astrid Rotenberry’s charismatic rendition of the cunning Claire Zachanassian to Alex Drinnen’s convincingly introspective portrayal of Alfred Ill, a man who finds himself confronting a potential plot against his own life.

Though the play deals with dark subject matter, it is surprisingly funny and legitimately charming. The characters Koby and Loby, portrayed by Dylan Collins and Miles Robinson respectively, stand out as they make the audience laugh out loud several times without robbing the story of any dramatic tension.

The set’s rustic, elegant appearance plays seamlessly into the story’s theme of poverty and provides an effective backdrop to the production’s generally grim atmosphere. The various props and buildings fit effortlessly into the actors’ performances, making the entire production even more convincing and enthralling.

The costume design and musical score are also incredible, with the latter involving a striking bit of engaging live instrumentation. These elements help effectively convey the spirit of the story’s setting, the town of Güllen — the antiquated workers’ uniforms and other folksy attire work in tandem with the occasional somber guitar melody or series of piano chords to paint a modest and evocative picture of rural Europe.

Overall, director Melissa Carlson’s enactment of “The Visit” brilliantly packs a variety of emotions into a well-paced and exciting production.

The show’s cast will be present for more performances this weekend, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday all providing opportunities to see the show.

Tickets are free for students and available online and at the box office.

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This article written by Justin Wagner. Photo by Rick Malkin.

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