Gone Missing

Steve Cosson and Members of The Civilians
Gate Theatre, Notting Hill
(2004)

Gone Missing (A Show About Things Lost and Found) is described as a musical mockumentary and has already been a big hit off-Broadway in New York.

It started with a series of interviews with New Yorkers about their experiences regarding things that had gone missing. It has then developed into a meditation on loss, which explores the subject from every conceivable angle.

This cabaret-style revue mixes story telling with witty songs in many different genres. Both music and lyrics are written by Michael Friedman and accompanied by live music on piano and guitar.

The cast of six swap roles and keep up a breakneck pace diving between sketches with alacrity. The delivery is clever, with several tales told simultaneously. This lack of linear flow can obscure or elucidate depending upon context but it does ensure that the audience are kept on their toes.

The physical losses range from dolls made out of socks through pets to expensive jewellery. Equally relevant are the metaphysical with people losing their loves; their virginity; their minds; and, as the show becomes darkest with an oblique view of 9/11, their lives.

The show is at its strongest when there is humour involved. Much of this is absurd, exemplified by the great shaggy dog story of Laura's Gucci shoe, lost in an off-Broadway theatre and eventually relocated in a cab in Rio. We also learn far more about Colombian neckties than is really desirable. No audience member is likely to offend a South American drug baron knowing the gory consequences.

With its recurring themes and stories, Gone Missing begins to take on a shape and meaning that seemed unlikely at its start.

The Civilians are a very well-rehearsed ensemble who make the most of their collective skills to deliver an entertaining and very quirky 90 minutes that is different from almost anything currently available on the London stage.

Philip also reviewed this show in 2007 at the Barrow Street Theatre, New York

Reviewer: Philip Fisher