I'm Missing You

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Coreen Grant

at 09:50 on 11th Aug 2016

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‘I’m Missing You’ begins on an intense, bleak note, but does not pick up hugely from its beginning. Following Sam, a man searching for his missing son, the production charts his interactions with a number of people he meets at the tube station where he spent his life, waiting. Each troubled person affords the audience a personable insight into the variety of issues and difficulties abounding in the world: only one story ends happily. Although claiming to explore real and often hard situations, the show largely depicts a miserable situation in which silver linings are few and far between.

The versatile acting of the lead roles prevents the play from becoming despondent. The three cast members work with what they have, each playing multiple and distinct characters. A special mention goes to Helen Fox who succeeds in occasionally lightening the tone with her buoyant depictions of four separate women, from a young, angry girl to an old woman with onset dementia.

Flickers of dark humour elicit a few surprised laughs from the audience, the most animated they seem throughout the production. The action is often hard to watch, not always because of the painful predicaments but also because of the choleric and aggressive mannerisms of many characters, who seem more full of hate and bitterness than your regular Tube-goers.

The scene changes and characters are complemented by small but detailed changes of costume and set: the backdrop of the tube station remains a constant, while contemporary posters serve as a reminder of the time period. The frequent time lapses seem to note little change aside from the set, however, which did serve to demonstrate the unchanging presence of Sam throughout the years and passing lives. A poignant touch.

Although purposefully directed as ‘raw theatre’, it seems this production is still perhaps a little too ‘raw’. The existential questions and bitterness of the characters are aptly summed up by a line at the start – ‘What happens when hope runs out?’ Yet the production never attempts to remedy this question. 'I'm Missing You' explores the meaning of happiness, and what it is to have a purpose in life, but offers no real answers or solutions, leaving the ending hanging without a satisfying conclusion.

Perhaps it is the aim of the play to comment that there is no neat closure to life, but it leaves a feeling that there should, and could, be something more.

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Grace Calvert

at 09:59 on 11th Aug 2016

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A shoddily written piece of AmDram, Helen Fox’s ‘I’m Missing You’ is clichéd to the point of cringe. The story begins in 1975, where a father, Sam, is searching for his missing son who was last seen in a London tube station 11 years before. After an argument with his wife, he decides to live in the tube station for the next thirty years of his life, still looking for his son. Leaden with painfully hackneyed dialogue and decidedly wooden acting from the three person cast, ‘I’m Missing you’ fails to have any emotional impact.

It is not like there is not opportunity for meaty emotional engagement. The play’s concerns are loss, sickness, family and friendship. Yet when the actors did attempt to portray emotion, it seems the director gave them two choices. Either shout your line, or just tell the audience what emotion you’re supposed to be portraying– “I’m angry” or “I misjudged you”. It’s the classic failing of telling instead of showing, and exposes a weak cast struggling with weaker writing. From this I must exempt Codge Crawford, who plays Sam, and who is able to bring genuine charm and a soft naturalism to this otherwise clunky production. His scenes are the only moving and winning moments of the play.

As we plod through the decades, we are bombarded by the stereotypical underground oddballs of the age. In 1985 we meet a young woman who is trying to throw herself in front of a train because she has AIDS. This situation would to most people would suggest a seriously troubled young woman, yet neither Fox’s writing or portrayal of this young woman suggest any depth to her character’s sorrows. I truly thought the character was joking for most of her exposition heavy conversation and was then genuinely baffled when she then did jump in front of the train.

There are so many things wrong with this play. The actors on multiple occasions deliver emotional speeches to the wings of the stage, as though they want to make sure absolutely no audience member could possibly see their face. There are also gaping historical inaccuracies, like in 1995 when apparently Tony Blair was already pasting the underground with campaign posters despite the general election being two years later in 1997. That could have been fixed with a google search.

However it is the total lack of complexity that damns ‘I’m Missing You'. Its reliance on trite emotional platitudes and two-dimensional representation of important social and psychological issues makes it painful to watch.

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