[author-post-rating] (4/5 Stars)
In Amit Lahav’s director’s notes for Gecko Theatre’s latest production, Missing, he suggests that “I honestly don’t know what Missing will mean to you… we invite you to navigate your own path”. This feels apt for the work, which, whilst astoundingly beautiful and the most precise and visual performance you’ll see at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, lacks a sense of navigation and journey for me personally. There’s undeniable beauty in the images that are presented and in the swiftness in which they roll in and out of focus, but there is something missing: my own connection with the work.
It’s a problematic question to ask, but am I the one at fault for not connecting to the piece or is it the company missing something in its work? Missing is a personal journey for Artistic Director Lahav, drawing upon his own family and upbringing, and presenting this through the story of Lily, a woman who shies from her past but ultimately has to face it through her encounters in the present. It’s a poignant reflection that seeks to find a language to understand the nature of being human, as if the soul can be extracted from the body and examined. There’s a wealth of rich material to submerge yourself in, and Gecko Theatre creates this world with sublime creativity and precision. The design, headed by Rhys Jarman and Lahav is dark and dream-like, lit (by Chris Swain and Lahav) with a degree of atmospheric glow, which throughout Missing gives this suspended sense of time and location. It’s as if we’re constantly floating between scenes in a dream state that never seems to end; a challenging but important element to the work.
Running as a lifeline through Missing is the movement of the piece, where performers flick and direct their bodies in all manner of directions. It’s as if a bolt of electricity has entered their body, and seeks the nearest point of exit. The movement is electric, pulsating and creating sparks that fill the stage. It’s staggering how precise and tightly knitted together the performers become during the movement sequences, and even more so during the individual dance sequences. Framed as moving paintings, and often reversing and flowing between moments, it’s as if the painter wanted to start his picture again and again, painting brushstroke upon brushstroke. This is perhaps the greatest strength of Lahav’s direction: his ability to pinpoint moments of focus within a sequence of repetitive flowing movement, and bring it to the forefront of the piece.
Visually you’ll be hard pushed to find such a refined piece of work at the Edinburgh Fringe, and whilst I struggled to find my own emotional engagement with the work, I’m sure others will find their through-route. It is a joy to witness the work of Gecko come together with precision and inventiveness. The action within Missing, like the conveyer belts used in the production, slips into the playing space with ease, and disappears into the darkness of the space once complete. If you blink you’ll miss it, but, like a fading memory, you’ll still have an idea of something passing your eyes momentarily.
Missing is playing at the Edinburgh Fringe until 25 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.