Missing Unplugged – Queen Elizabeth Hall – 20th March 2015

23 Mar

It took me a while to decide whether I should attempt to write about this show considering I have never seen it like it was meant to be seen. As pointed out to us before the performance Gecko’s Missing is a highly technical show using floating set elements, various props and light effects and in this unplugged version we obviously got none of that. To be fair though we did get a few props which despite having been made last-minute out of things the company could get their hands on really added to the charm of this performance.

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Missing production photo

For those of you who have not been following Gecko’s story over the past two weeks here is what happened: On Friday the 13th of March a fire broke out at Battersea Arts Centre destroying the Grand Hall (luckily other parts of the building could be saved). Gecko’s show Missing was in the middle of a two-week run at Battersea Arts Centre and their set, props and costumes were in the Grand Hall when it burned to the ground. Most of these things were handmade and had been developed over years. It was the devastating loss of a show that was scheduled to start touring around the world this year.

Determined to save their show Gecko started a Kickstarter campaign. They reached their fundraising goal of £5.000 in less than a day. Seeing the support and love for their company and the show – not just through Kickstarter but also through various offers of help they received in the days after the fire – Gecko decided they wanted to put on a show.

Missing production photo

Missing production photo

And this is how I found myself inside the Queen Elizabeth Hall just a week after the tragic fire. The free tickets for the event had sold out in a day and the venue was buzzing with excitement. The performance we got to see was simply called Missing Unplugged and it was just that: A bare bones version of Missing with little props, no light changes and lots of improvisation. But what this performance lacked in set and technical finesse it more than made up with talent, skill and the absolute will to not let the spirit of Gecko be broken by what had happened.

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Rehearsals for Missing Unplugged

Missing tells the story of Lily, a woman whose soul is in decay and who seems to be trapped in today’s high speed society. She builds up the relationship with her husband in a rush but the pair are like strangers when they are alone, unable to sit together comfortably. She meets an Italian-speaking man (a psychologist maybe?) who helps her figure out what is wrong with her. Lily starts to revisit her childhood in an attempt to revitalize her soul. We see glimpses of the relationship between her parents – her British father and her Spanish mother, a Flamenco dancer. By looking back at her childhood Lily manages to identify what is missing in her presence.

All characters in the show are vocal and while they speak in various European languages it is easy to understand them through their physicality. And for me this is the core beauty of Gecko’s work. Their visual storytelling is one of a kind. Gecko manage to establish characters the audience can identify with even though they don’t understand all that is spoken. A lot of this is due to the wonderfully talented performers who manage to draw you in and take you on a journey.

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Gecko on stage at the end of Missing Unplugged

Personally I found this bare version of Missing to be absolutely gripping and beautiful. Since I haven’t seen the full production I cannot compare the two but I can say that I left the Queen Elizabeth Hall full of love for this extraordinary company and their stunning way of telling a story through movement. Missing Unplugged was a truly extraordinary event which showed that in the end it’s not about the fancy sets and props but about real talent and passion.

If you feel like helping Gecko to bring Missing back to life please contribute to their Kickstarter campaign. These guys and girls really are worth supporting.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2060502382/bring-missing-back-to-life

For more info about Gecko and their work please visit http://www.geckotheatre.com and make sure to follow them on Twitter @GeckoTheatre .

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