Jeremy Herrin | Justice and Morality | The Visit at the National Theatre

Jeremy Herrin | Justice and Morality | The Visit at the National Theatre


It’s set in 1956, in upstate New York, and it tells the tale
of the world’s richest woman, who was born in Slurry
and left when she was young. She returns and she offers the town
$1 billion if they exact a demand. What that offer and that demand do
is it sends the town into a spin that asks fundamental questions
about who we are and how we live
and what’s important to us. It feels like a very timely
and interesting play, because it’s about
community and morality, what justice is, and how
betrayal resonates down the years. Full of surprising twists and turns. I realised that Tony Kushner had been
working on an adaptation. Tony’s a brilliant writer and, you know, one of the greatest living
playwrights, so wonderful to work with. He’s done such a faithful
and muscular adaptation. It feels like an amazing collaboration
between Dürrenmatt and Kushner. Another thing that’s great about it
is that you can work with a really great
ensemble company of actors, and they’re two real wonderful
leading parts. They’re both
theatre creatures. They’re really into
discovering the complexity of these characters and they’re great to work with. When you have actors
of that quality and that attitude, the rest of the ensemble is really
creative and really liberated. I think an audience will have
expectations of it, being a Dürrenmatt
and it being Tony Kushner, that it could be hard work, because it’s a serious show
about serious subjects, but there’s a lot of mischief
in the writing, a lot of naughtiness and silliness. Some of it is very funny,
I think – downright entertaining. I like doing something
I haven’t done before. I like doing something
that makes me frightened, and I think good work happens
when you’re kind of stealing yourself. The scale of the production is enormous. I think the only place in the world
that you could produce it is in the Olivier at the National. The shows that I’ve done here
have been my favourite shows. It’s a space with a lot of challenges,
but also with a lot of opportunities. It gives us a chance
to make our best work, and that’s exactly
what it should be doing. Just a dream team,
as far as I’m concerned.

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