Having a loved one go unexpectedly missing is a heart-wrenching and horrible time for anyone. In its new verbatim production, Engineer Theatre gives the audience a glimpse behind the news articles and press interviews, giving first hand dialogue from those who have lost, searched for and loved a missing person.
Following a number of different cases through the words of family members, police officers and journalists, Missing is a truly gripping and hard-hitting piece of theatre. The young ensemble carries the harsh themes superbly, able to find some humour amongst the sad stories and emotional dialogue.
The dramatic techniques used on the whole are extremely effective, including a segment where only simple hat props are shown to emulate the faceless masses who each have their own views, witness accounts and opinions of a missing person.
The movement of time in the piece is well thought out but at times distracts slightly from the action. Using little boxes that light up and sound as the seasons pass feels slightly jarring to the storyline. Also, the physical theatre used by the company, although revealing great talent as an ensemble, doesn't always add anything to the performance that the words within the verbatim aren't doing anyway.
However, that said, the acting is extremely strong and the through-line of the piece is superbly thought through. Using the 1957 historic case of Moira Anderson who went missing aged 11 from her small village mixed with more modern cases such as that of Nicola Payne, it really reveals a sense of change as to how these investigations are carried out nowadays.
Using a voice over to cover Moira's story and a monologue by the detective in charge of the Payne case also makes the performance even more interesting to watch. You never lose interest at any point with the audience staying in a stunned silence for the full hour.
Missing is a captivating yet harrowing look at a side of reality few ever experience but by the end a real sense of emotion is carried out the door by each audience member.
Missing runs until 25 August at the Underbelly, Cowgate.
Reviewer: Liam Blain