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Missing (Review)

By Nicholas Korn · June 3rd, 2011 · Fringe
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CRITIC'S PICK

The title of Jessica Ferris’ one woman show, Missing: The Fantastical and True Story of My Father’s Disappearance and What I Found When I Looked for Him (at Know Theatre), would pretty much seem to say it all. And yet, there would be so much, well — missing.

It would miss that the performance opens with one of the most hilarious encounters with a folding chair that I have ever seen. It would miss that Ferris plays an entire cast of supporting family members with an amazing deal of sympathy and range. It would miss that this show starts with smart, quirky comedy, then rightly and righteously ends with anger and the most cold-hearted understanding of what it means to be cold-hearted that you are likely to find.

The show is also scripted with a wealth of deft metaphors that point back to the fact that Ferris’s father turned out to be a con man with litany of aliases as long as the phone book.

She repeatedly suggests verbally and visually the desire to slip through tiny spaces, the search for portals, and the urge to move from where you are to someplace new.

This is not a linear show, but more like a hub with spokes. Ferris even addresses this directly in the last 15 minutes of the performance, when she decides to tack hand-drawn images of all the important players in this drama of disappearance on a rotating clothes rack that serves inventively at times as a movie screen.

In the final sequence of the show, Ferris has found her father, oddly enough, through a YouTube posting of a news story that features him as the victim of a scam. The video stutters and repeats on the screen, showing his false amazement at having been conned. At that moment, she knows that her childhood never meant anything to him, but was a one of many distant pasts from which he was determined to escape. And her hurt is deservedly real.

Special mention should also be made regarding composer Mark Orton, whose original music provides a perfect underscoring for the production’s varying tones.

In one sequence, Ferris explains the nature of the sociopath, which she learned from reading a popular trade paperback. The key trait, she states, is lack of feeling and empathy. Her performance at this year’s Fringe Festival would be a great litmus test for that, as it dares us to feel everything.

Missing is not to be missed.

 
 
 
 

 

 
06.05.2011 at 10:55 Reply
Missing my rating: 2 out of 4* This was an extremely creative piece, autobiographical as many one person shows are. The Missing is a sociopath father. The point of view is our actor, his daughter, abandoned at age 2. Through many means, and several characters, we get so twisted up in the tale that at the 3/4 point we get a clarifying recap to untwist us. This personal tale is overlaid with a healthy warning about the 1 in 25 of us who are sociopaths, people we want to trust who use our trust to their own ends exclusively. To and Fro and Up and Down Fringy Suzana 3* Randy 3* Ross 3* This was a straight ahead tale told by Satan to clarify for us his three brief appearances in the Bible (yes, despite all the hype, he is only mentioned three times in the whole 66 books of the Bible.) To help him tell his tales, he is joined by Adam, Eve, the Snake, then Job and Job's wife, then Jesus. It is a theologically accurate but hilarious and thoughtful, though, I would guess, irreligious telling. Be warned. The published length for this piece is 35 minutes, but the actual run time is 55 minutes. Although this meant we missed our next show, we had no regrets. They had my attention from start to finish. Satan certainly has poise and a silver tongue.

 

 
 
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