By Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman
Directed by Alan Bruun, Anna Demers, and Steve Mackinnon
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>
In the frame of high concept art, it’s easy to misplace a sense of humanity. Gone Missing doesn’t fall in that trap; it instead focuses on the common stories of common people losing common objects. It might keys, a diamond ring, or a single size six Gucci pump that mysteriously reappears in a Rio taxi cab, but everything lost somehow eased the journey through the day. There’s a rule about the lost object in this show – it must be an object, not a person or an abstraction, and that leads less heartache and more laughs that you might expect. After all, things are less important than friends and relatives, even the ones you don’t like.
These true stories gathered from interviews give us quick glances into the lives of strangers, with jovial Jonathan Lang carrying the longest narrative line. He’s the rookie cop, sent to pick of the pieces of dead bodies the more experienced cops won’t touch. He loses his lunch. Another continuing character is the smarmy pop psychologist Dr. Palenoris (Keith Kirkwood) who wrote the book on losing and psychoanalyzes the losers while spouting off about Atlantis, the ultimate lost object. You’d like to strangle him, except he’s so charming.
While the music in Gone Missing won’t blow you away, there are some nice numbers. Lang and the Company first sing La Bodega in Spanish, and with my weak Spanish it sounds like a man looking for the child on the side of a milk carton. When Kevin Zepf sings the subtitle, the song becomes much more tender and personal. Still, the mistake on my part was fun. Later Jenny Weaver did a nice job with the lonesome Hide and Seek, and Mr. Zepf sang an inexplicably gentle song in German about dreams and broken hearts.
Alan Bruun’s stark set is cluttered with a dozen rehearsal cubes set on a black and white grid. The cast marches about on the lines, moving the boxes to form temporary stages that are most effective during Kirkwood’s Lost Horizon number and when they all reveal a striking surprise for closing number Stars. The set and motion mixed thoughts of Air Force cadets walking the grid at Colorado Springs and an urge to call out “Knight to Rehearsal Cube 5, Checkmate! “
Gone Missing is experimental as all get out and worth getting out to see. The concept challenges while the acting reminds you of your own losses. And every time you see a shoe on the roadside or a cell phone in a restroom, remember: Someone is having a hell of time getting along without it.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com