Friday 16 August 2013

Tiny and epic

Missing, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

The experiences of youth are central to the construction of who we are in adulthood. The relationship of our parents, our ideas about love and the songs we sing all become etched into our more mature consciousness, feeding into our own perception of identity and the way we behave. In Gecko’s Missing, the experience of the past becomes essential to the lived experience of the present, in a production which, like our memory, works through images which drift in and out of focus, ebbing and flowing with each particular moment.

Lily is a hard-working businesswoman who gets married during the opening sequence of the piece. The loose narrative then sees her struggle to come to terms with her failing relationship as we watch that of her parents play out pretty much in reverse. The two plots become interlinked, but play out in different speeds in different directions. Finally, during an exquisitely crafted and gently funny scene at the end of the production, her parents meet for the first time. As these memories play out, her soul is also in the process of decay, as her personal understanding of who she is complicates her identity.

This is pretty much all inference, as director Amit Lahav carefully doesn’t give too much away in terms of ‘what happens’, preferring instead to stick to loose phrases, a selection of languages and bold images. Thus, in this show about personal identity, each audience member’s own personal identity will impact upon their interpretation and enjoyment.

This is a world made of gorgeous, visceral images. Two massive treadmills on Rhys Jaman’s surprisingly minimalist set are used throughout, allowing quick shifts in tense and location, ensuring everything is always moving. When they stop, it feels like the whole world has ceased to turn. Chris Swan’s lighting follows similar patterns, ever-changing and allowing the team to hone the audience’s focus. Picture frames with a taut plastic sheet and bordering lights make anything within their borders look like an old photograph, sepia-tones and all; these are snapshots from Lily’s life, moving images trapped in time.

The five performers create a visual language borne out of movement to tell this story. They move from slow, sensuous dances to full-throttle freak-outs, but no matter how fast or slow it is always exquisitely executed. The scenes played in rewind are hypnotic, accompanied by Dave Price’s rich music, which follows the patterns and cadences created by the bodies on stage. They all come together with beautiful synergy, flesh mixed with metal and the real with the unreal.

Missing manages to make the vast, unforgiving space at the Pleasance Dome look both tiny and epic, and everything feels wholly necessary for the telling of this particular story. By creating such a personal but non-specific story, Lahav invites us to place ourselves within this story, and through Gecko’s trademark mix of cutting edge stagecraft and technology makes us realise that memories are all we have.


Company: Gecko
Director: Amit Lahav
Venue: Pleasance Grand till 26 August 2013


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The Stage
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National Theatre
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Royal Shakespeare Company
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