Friday, November 10, 2023


Written by Jane Harrison

Directed by Wesley Enoch

A Sydney Theatre Company & Moogahlin Performing Arts Production

The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 11 November


Reviewed by Len Power 9 November 2023


“The Visitors” focusses on our First Nations’ people and one of the most impactful and painful days in Australia’s history.  On a sweltering day in January 1788, seven clan leaders gather on a sandstone escarpment overlooking Sydney harbour. What is probably the First Fleet of ships is arriving and the attendees must choose unanimously whether to welcome these mysterious strangers or send them on their way.

First produced at the 2020 Sydney Festival, this production is immediately engaging and often surprisingly funny.

Writer, Jane Harrison, has provided the cast with deeply etched characters to play as well as clever dialogue. The ensemble cast of Joseph Wunujaka Althouse, Elaine Crombie, Kyle Morrison, Aaron Pedersen, Guy Simon, Beau Dean Riley Smith and Dalara Williams all give strong and heart-felt performances.

From left: Elaine Crombie, Guy Simon, Luke Carroll (replaced at this performance by Aaron Pedersen), Kyle Morrison, Beau Dean Riley Smith, Dalara Williams and Joseph Wunujaka Althouse

Their characters seem at times like any modern squabbling committee with strengths, weaknesses and personal baggage and that helps us to identify with them. Wearing modern day business clothes, First Nation accessories and no footware cleverly sets cross-cultural and period issues. There is a lot of humour and wit in the modern dialogue – “clap sticks on silent” is just one of the meeting rules the group is requested to abide by.

The attractive and substantial sandstone escarpment setting, designed by Elizabeth Gadsby, has height and many playing levels that has enabled the director, Wesley Enoch, to give the production an eye-pleasing flow as well as ensuring the characters have a believable depth.  It has also been given a clever lighting design by Karen Norris and Brendon Boney has provided a subtle but highly effective sound design.

It was pleasing to see that many of the cast and creatives are, or have links to, First Nation people. This is a quality production that is very entertaining as well as delivering a powerful message.


Photos by Daniel Boud

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at