Review: Missing – New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Life can often seem a bit of a conveyer belt, endless meetings, family gatherings and commitments piling up to form a non-stop barrage.

It’s a feeling repeated in Gecko’s Missing, as conveyer belts move performers in and out of focus. It’s a device Gecko has used previously in The Race, but here developed to a whole new level.

As with much physical theatre, Missing doesn’t provide a definitive narrative, allowing the audience to overlay their own experiences onto the piece but, in Missing, Gecko arguably stage their most defined piece yet.

As Lilly undergoes medical treatment, she is forced to re-examine her life, both current and in the past. Her memories float through her consciousness as she recalls her parents, her younger self and her career. Of course each individual audience member will have their own take on the narrative but whatever the story it’s a deeply personal journey.

Technically the show combines many themes that Gecko has explored in the past. Music, dance, puppetry, movement and special effects combining to tell a story in visual terms that overcomes language. The key motif here is a series of illuminated frames that replay elements of Lilly’s past. Faded photos and old cine film brought vividly to life by the company so effectively that you forget you are actually watching live action.

The staging is impressive, though doesn’t overwhelm the story. The fluidity of the conveyors and frames moves the action swiftly from tableaux to tableaux, only slowly losing pace towards the end of the 75 minutes when the short, staccato staging is overtaken by a lingering scene that seems at odds with the rest of the fast paced action.

While the effects are clever, sadly they are not quite perfect. The touring nature of the show does mean some sightline issues that need to be addressed. Some framing is missed from side seating and other action is viewed at too acute an angle to really work.

The five strong company; Anna Finkel, Chris Evans, David Bartholomew, Georgina Roberts and Ryen Perkins-Gangnes, drop in an out of scenes with split-second precision. Whether as individual characters or a synchronised chorus it’s a non-stop blur of motion and movement.

Of course, with a show that relies on its audience to come to their own conclusion on the subject and plot all of the above could be completely off the mark. Whatever the interpretation, Missing showcases Gecko’s unique theatrical style, though at times does seem to be an amalgam of previous Gecko creations rather than something totally new.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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