I first saw Missing on my last day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, just a few days after the final performance of our own show, A Writer’s Lot. It was the most expensive show I paid for throughout my time at the Fringe (I’d seen a lot of shows for free) but it was the best thing I saw in the entire three-and-a-bit weeks I was there. I was gobsmacked, and sat there with my mouth wide open for several minutes when it ended. My friend Sophie and I were only a row or two from the front, and right at the centre, so we had seen every vivid moment in full glory. We gave Gecko a standing ovation (although the woman behind me tugged at my clothes and asked me to sit back down). I was thrilled to be able to see it again, and to write about it for “work”.
Gecko’s Missing is a vivid piece of dance theatre, infused with electrifying energy, highly developed characters and an intriguing plot.
Missing tells the story of Lily, a woman whose soul is in decay, as she remembers and revisits her childhood in an attempt to revitalise her soul. We see the relationship between Lily and her husband build with anticipation, then unravel unhappily. Lily begins to explore what’s wrong with her after she meets with an ambiguous Italian-speaking figure (a scientist, priest, mentor?) who identifies and helps remedy Lily’s issue, taking her soul from within her and handing it back to her in a cardboard box.
Click the link in the title to read my full review of Missing at the London International Mime Festival on Bachtrack.com
I was lucky enough to speak to artistic director Amit Lahav after the show at the ROH Linbury, having just witnessed (and contributed to) an extensive post-show discussion led by Donald Hutera. I was fascinated to hear about the way Gecko work when developing a piece of work – how much development the creative process actually is. If I’m not mistaken, the show has been touring for 2 years, and only about 10% of the original content remains: they are on version 3.8 of Missing. Despite having to ditch some fantastic images, the work has developed in order to reflect the truth(s) within the work – they have to be very disciplined not to get carried away by what looks good, and maintain a truthful piece of work (as opposed to a work primarily concerned with the artifice of aesthetic).
Amit said that his/their work can only develop with an audience: without/before the audience, there’s something missing – like an absent sixth performer. What helps the production develop is the energy that feeds back into the performers from the audience – the performers are responsible for their audience, for the journey this body of people take through the piece, and for what the audience take away from it.
When Donald introduced me to Amit, I was burning to ask how he chooses his ensemble members. (I understood the organic casting process – yet another instance of finding the truth of the work itself – following the storyline and developing character of Lily, for example.) Amit told me that his first concern is that he feel some kind of emotional connection with the person: he must be interested in the way they think and feel about something, the emotional connections they make. Secondly, not only do Gecko performers have to have physical strength and meticulous technique, but they must be able to relinquish their technique in favour of emotional exploration. They must be confident that they can rely on their body to continue to be amazing, while they focus on exploring some deeper truth.
I could continue, but I won’t. It was fascinating to meet the creator of such inspirational work. And I will keep my promise to keep in touch.