While We’re Here, Salisbury Playhouse Salberg Studio

A SENSE of home and belonging is something we inc­reasingly think about in the light of Brexit, the horrors of Grenfell Tower and the international dismantling of certainties.

Barney Norris’s new play While We’re Here, set in present-day Havant, is all about longing for attachment and fearing that its inevitable consequence will be unhappiness.

Former lovers Carol and Eddie have met up again by chance in a Hampshire park. He’s living rough, so she invites him to her home while he sorts himself out. Her daughter Liane has left home for the bright lights and excitement of Hayling Island, so there’s plenty of room.

Eddie, who describes himself as the only black man in Havant, has some plans for the rest of his life, involving  researching otters or re-wilding the countryside. But first he wants some treatment for his fatalistic depression.

Carol lives a more prosaic life, bantering with colleagues in the electoral registration office about television programmes and kidding herself that her relationship with Liane is close and important.

Both of them cling onto a fragile hope that they may, finally, have found salvation in each other, but when the time comes the fear of future rejection is too great.

This poignant short play in four scenes is heartbreakingly performed by Tessa Peake-Jones and Andrew French.

Directed by Alice Hamilton, it is another memorable play by prolific Salisbury native Barney Norris, who constantly demonstrates an understanding of the essence of human nature and the human condition which seem way beyond his years.


Photograph by Mark Douet

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