top of page
  • Karyn Ashby

The Band's Visit at Writers creates connection

The Band’s Visit is a perfect production for the design of the Nichols Theatre. The show’s quiet intimacy, showcasing human connection or lack thereof, is intensified with the half-moon seating. If you dare to sit in the front row, like I did, the experience is even more immersive. There is no platform separating the stage from the audience, and the production makes use of every inch of floor space – even extending into the entry aisles. I had to uncross my legs many times when the actors passed by me,especially during the show’s jubilant roller-skating scene. At one point, a crib was so close to me I could have touched it, and the actors stood around me so that I became an observing partner, illuminated by the lighting so that all could see me watching.

The expertly composed music is the play’s anchor. The cast are not just actors, but musicians as well, breaking into ensemble performances throughout the production, often weaving through the space so the music surrounds the audience. At one point Dana Saleh Omar, who plays struggling new mother Iris with impressive emotional intensity, sat next to me on the stairs playing a flute. My favorite scene was Michael Joseph Mitchell’s exultant musical number where he reminisces about seeing his future wife for the first time when he was onstage playing in a band. His performance was outstanding. The cast is stellar, and this is a show that requires beautiful singing and movement, comedic timing, camaraderie, and nuance. Their deft characterizations captured my heart and transported me to a forlorn town where nothing ever happens. You could also say that not much happens in the play. Yet so many things occur on a subtle emotional level, a level we’re not always accustomed to as theater-goers.

Some conflicts are resolved, which satisfies our expectations of “happening”, but some aren’t. At first I was disconcerted and wondered if I missed something, but then I realized the discomfort was intentional. It’s what happens in real life - waiting and wanting things to happen, full of joy when they do, and disappointment when they don’t.

As Leo Tolstoy said, “All great literature is one of two stories; a [person] goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” In The Band’s Visit, strangers come to a town that is almost mythical. A town that seems to exist in limbo with archetypal characters who connect or disconnect with the foreigners who show up needing food and shelter for the night. Traditionally costumed Arab musicians appearing in an Israeli desert village is definitely a “happening,” one with understated consequences that sometimes discourage, but often delight.

The Band's Visit is at Glencoe Illinois' Writers Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Wednesdays through Sundays through March 17, 2024. For more tickets and information go to

Photo by Michael Brosilow

  For more reviews go to


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page