FRINGE: The Disappearances Project – Theatre – AC ARTS – 3K

By Miriam Keane

On an almost bare stage, two people sit facing the audience. Behind them, a screen lights up and a video (director Yana Taylor) rolls. We are taken through the streets of an unknown town, driving with no particular destination, just watching (maybe not great for those who suffer from motion sickness). An accompanying soundscape (composer Paul Prestipino) creates a feeling of disconnection, like you’re observing all of this from underwater. Immersed in this altered reality, the performers (Irving Gregory and Yana Taylor), add to the mix the voices of those who have been left behind.

The Disappearances Project, from Version 1.0, is a mixed media presentation and, despite being classified under the title in the Fringe Guide, does not fit readily into the category that many people would term “theatre”. At times it is like watching a research paper – which is what this project essentially is. It is the presentation on stage, of comments made by people who have been interviewed on a particular theme, the disappearance of someone they know.

The two presenters slip between stories, layering the experiences on top of one another to create a picture of what it’s like to have someone vanish from your life, with no answers as to what has happened. The information moves logically through time – from the initial shock, through the practical impact and onto the uncertain future – and creates a holistic sense of the experience. While the clinical recitation of the stories added to the feeling of disconnection and the impression that they all came together in one overall experience, the lack of emotion and variation in delivery did feel dull at times.

The Disappearances Project was certainly intellectually engaging, but it would be a stretch to define it as entertaining. If you’re up for a bit of deep thought and want to learn more about the subject matter though, it’s a good way to do so.


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