'Missing' review or 'I've always been someone else's...'

'Missing', Barney Norris
Tristan Bates Theatre, Thursday 2nd February 2012
Written for The Stage

Posters paper the walls, tapes lie scattered about and boardgames nestle beneath the bed, in Luke and Andy's bedroom. They are the remnants of a typical childhood but, in Barney Norris' new play, Missing, the time has come to set aside childish things. Younger brother, Andy, wants to join the army and experience a real and exciting life, beyond his bedroom walls.

Norris is a graduate of the Royal Court Writer's scheme and his slow burning script is confidently laid back. His structure is ambitious, jumping between time frames and releasing the plot at a tantalisingly slow pace. But it is the brothers' flinty camaraderie that is the play's focus and strength, as we watch the two whisper in the dark and bicker in the daylight.

Rob Heaps is a sensitive performer and portrays Luke as a thoughtful but volatile chap. But it is Joe Robertson, as Andy, who really intrigues. As he resolves upon an army life – anything to escape Andover – Robertson transforms from an excitable young lad into a horribly hardened adult.

Unfortunately, director Alice Hamilton doesn't do enough to distinguish between the sliding time frames and, although the nuanced performances help, the show is sometimes wilfully obscure.


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