by Andrew O’Hagan.
Tramway (T1) 25 Albert Drive G41 2PE To 1 October 2011.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat 1 Oct 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3501.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 September.
Cumulative impact of those who are vanished and gone.
This is the second time the National Theatre Scotland has gone to a book by Andrew O’Hagan for one of its productions. Following his novel Be Near Me, the company now adapts his first book, an exploration of the concept of missing people, building a vocabulary of ‘mispers and ‘killability’ that is spelled-out across the projections ranged on the screen that divides worlds in Neil Warmington’s set.
Life goes on behind, in front a journalist (Joe McFadden) interviews the people left by those who are missed. He starts on an assignment in Gloucester, sent there in the wake of the Fred and Rosemary West killings with a vague brief to nose around. As people come from the sides to tell their stories, about those lost and (exceptionally) found, his investigations acquire more concern.
McFadden apart, the cast step literally into various people’s shoes from the footwear ranged either side of the stage, as they come forward, bringing chairs, sofa or table with them to create the individuality of people’s lives within the bare-stage anonymity of a larger society. Finally, all stand on chairs, a chorus looking for those who have gone.
O’Hagan’s script from his own book is economical and pointed. It’s worth sticking with the concentration required to follow the procession of new situations and backgrounds as, gradually, individual events gather into a larger question – the ‘killability’ of ‘mispers’.
‘Killability’ comes from a police source; it’s a category that opens up questions, asking what there is about some people, or their circumstances, that leads to them going beyond social misfits or drop-outs, to disappear and leave holes in others’ lives. They are missing in a more direct sense – of all theatre-pieces based on interviews, this is the one that can never interview those who form its subject.
It’s the ones who are left behind, quietly recounting memories, individuals against the blank, electronically-generated surround Warmington provides – warmed only at times by Brigit Forsyth’s ’cello-playing – who emphasise by their presence the facts and impacts of, if not the reasons for, absence. And the actors’ skilfully clarify how these people cope.
Cast: Brigit Forsyth, Joe McFadden, Myra McFadyen, Brian Pettifer, Barbara Rafferty, John Ramage.
Director: John Tiffany.
Designer: Neil Warmington.
Lighting: Davy Cunningham.
Sound: Gareth Fry.
Composer: David Paul Jones.
Video: Ian William Galloway.
Movement: Imogen Knight.
Assistant director: Amanda Gaughan.