'Missing' – Gecko Theatre | London International Mime Festival
'Missing' by Gecko Theatre inspires and confuses in equal measure. What initially feels like a dance piece quickly develops into something far more abstract and obscure. Although the overall effect is startlingly beautiful, director Amit Lahav’s apparent unwillingness to invite the audience in lets the performance down.
'Missing' follows the story of Lily, a newly wed who reminisces on her parents’ arguments as her own marriage begins to crumble. Georgina Roberts as Lily is a force of nature. Her performance is honest, sincere and enthralling. A life-size bunraku style puppet serves as Lily as a child, with eyes sufficiently large that it feels as though she’s looking right at you. She moves with such ease and grace that she steals our attention every time she appears. When puppet Lily and Roberts finally come together, it so perfectly captures the essence of the show that their interaction could easily have been the main event.
Unfortunately, it isn't. The same story, for all intents and purposes, is told at least twice, and in various ways. It is expressed through contemporary and flamenco dance, alluding to passionate arguments and fragmented conversations. And it's expressed from different perspectives, showing the audience how small events can impact on larger ones, depending on who experiences them. As a non-linear, non-chronological performance, there are plenty of surprises along the way that develop themes that have happened earlier. All of these methods work incredibly well, telling the story by giving just enough information for the audience to decide what is happening for themselves.
And then there are the foreign languages. Each performer speaks a different language: there’s some Italian, some French, some German, maybe some Yiddish (it’s hard to tell), and Lily speaks in English. When it’s just Lily and her German husband on stage it works as an admittedly cack-handed metaphor for misunderstanding. But when there are five of them seated around a dinner table, chattering away for what feels like a very long time, it’s hard to just not feel excluded, like you’re missing out.
'Missing' has been running for almost three years, and it’s definitely still going. At a Q&A session after the Friday performance at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio, Lahav explains that the material they use now is 10% of the material they had at the beginning. It doesn't feel like enough material for a 75 minute show. Visually captivating, it’s a shame that the audience isn't welcomed in, and periodically asked to leave. Metaphorically speaking.