Gecko visited The Place last week with Missing, a thrillingly dark narrative of a woman struggling with shadows of her past, as she is bombarded with the present demands of her fast-paced life. What made this performance so captivating was not necessarily the story itself, but the creative and technical choices made by director Amit Lahav and the performers to enrich this story. Ultimately the show was an example of physical theatre of the highest calibre – full of thought-provoking imagination and creative innovation.

Missing grew from an idea Lahav first had 2010, that began with the statement, “A woman discovers she has a decaying soul,” he explained in the programme notes. He then continued, “I honestly don’t know what Missing will mean to you – I sincerely hope it will mean something different to everyone.” While the meaning of the work remains up to the individual, the talent involved in the creation and performance of Missing is undeniably obvious. Lahav and his performers and technical team presented a work that was sharp and engaging, with every component seamlessly joined to construct a truly striking work.

The beginning of Missing is a whirlwind of action as the audience is given an overview of Lily’s life. The performers travel across the stage on conveyor belts, moving with and against the flow to the beat of the music. While the performers are talking and interacting, the sound is often too low to make out words, and the effect is an insistent chatter that communicates the mood of the interaction, without the burden of specific meaning. Lily, performed by Georgina Roberts, is at the eye of the storm, joining in on the chaos around her, but also becoming detached.

From this point onward a clear narrative forms, spinning Lily through her life, but the use of movement as the predominant language allows the audience to bring in their own ideas and meanings. Spliced in between Lily’s gradual downward spiral are flashbacks of her family – memories and events that impact and foreshadow her apparent loss of self and soul. Performers Anna Finkel and Chris Evans, portraying Lily’s mother and father, give a complex and emotionally charged performance, weaving together acting and dance to create vivid snapshots, each stronger than the last. These scenes are cleverly delineated from Lily’s “real life” by placing the action into different sized lighted frames that give the scene a movie-like quality.

These frames are only one example of the inventive technical tools used throughout the show to both enhance and clarify. Intricate lighting, rotating floors and elaborate sets all added to the piece, but were so fully integrated that they never looked out of place or mistimed. Layered over these techniques was a full sound score that helped give the piece its dark and almost dream-like quality.

Toward the end of the work, the more linear narrative is unravelled, and the framed events more prominent, until the storyline seems of little importance. Ideas and concepts are abstracted, and audience and performers alike seem to loose grasp of the reality we clung to at the start. Does Lily revive her soul? I think that would depend on who you ask, but Missing did take the audience for a journey – and that journey definitely meant something to me.

Gecko: Missing, at The Place TheatreErin Johnson reviews Gecko Theatre's Missing at The Place, directed by Amit Lahav.4