Missing @ Underbelly Cowgate
Engineer's Missing is an incredibly important piece of theatre at this year's Fringe. It takes verbatim interviews with families and officers alike to look into the hidden information about just how many people go missing every year in Britain, and why so many cases go ignored by the media, forgotten about, or lie unsolved for years and years.
The actors' recreation of the verbatim interviews and conversations is simple and sensitively done. There's something about knowing that the words and emotions on stage are real that heightens everything, but this wouldn't work so effectively if the performances were any less strong than they are. It feels like these actors really are the family and friends that they represent, that they really experienced these things.
The play is not entirely constructed from the verbatim interviews however. It combines movement sequences – a particularly haunting image of a father struggling to carry a silent clinging body will stay with you – media clips, a theme of passing time and voice overs on top of tableau-like silent images. It is the way all these different techniques are effortlessly and beautifully combined that makes the play so powerfully emotive.
We enter in and out of separate stories and different decades of disappearance, and the performance doesn't shy away from telling all sides of a missing persons story. It simply presents the honest truth. Clearly we have moved forward in many ways when it comes to solving a missing persons case, but there are still so many unsolved and so much more we could do. This is the societal problem that Missing highlights, but in such a gentle way that it never preaches or propagandises the audience about what must be done. It just is.