For lighthearted fare, don’t miss GONE MISSING a little musical running downtown at The Barrow Street Theatre, an ode to lost items – rings, car keys, blackberries, loved ones, you name it. Performed by a sextet comprised of three men and three women, MISSING is mostly charming as it delves into our ability to obsess over things. The material here is culled from real life interviews.
“Could I talk about losing a husband, cause I could certainly have a lot to say on that subject?” one character poses the question shrewdly. Another young woman demands attention for her lost Gucci pump, explaining that she had taken her shoes off at PS 122 and when she returned to LA could only find one of them. After making repeated phone calls to the theater management and artistic director, she hounds the friend she was with to go back and look for it himself. Her story is most curious as she finally discovers the shoe later in the show when she arrives in Rio. Opening her suitcase, the contents stolen, she rips through it and finds the lost pump stuck in an obscure corner. The tale, as told by this persistent young lady, teases its way through the evening.
MISSING is primarily a collection of such anecdotes, narrated or told in song such as the ensemble number ETCH A SKETCH which goes to the most essential of losses, memory itself. “I’m an Etch a Sketch (but now I’m all shook up)/I’m a piece of wax (but now the imprint’s lost).” Michael Friedman’s lyrics have a comic pull and sense of whimsy even though the subject is most often about lost love or just its absence. He sustains his subject through the requisite display of musical styles, 60’s rock, Latin, folk, among them.
Still the performers bring an improvisational quality to the material that makes it feel fresh and rife with discovery. One doesn’t rehearse losing things after all. Stephen Plunkett is especially invigorating in a variety of characterizations, especially an Italian cop who narrates a sequence of episodes about his experiences working on DOAs. Let’s just say he mines the comedy of some awkward situations. And Jennifer Morris as the socialite with the pump, a tough cop, a Jewish lady from Queens and several other incarnations, is a hoot.
But in spite of the talented performers, the show eventually looses its oomph. After a while the anecdotal material repeats the same sort of message without developing a story that goes anywhere. This is definitely a case of style over substance.
By Isa Goldberg