Review – How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found

How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found by Fin Kennedy – New Wolsey Young Company – New Wolsey Studio till Sat April 29th

A brilliantly disturbing allegory of our times, superbly performed and directed – this a piece of modern theatre that is both absorbing and uncomfortably close to the truth – and a must see if you are a connoisseur of first class theatre productions that are both entertaining and have something to say .

The Young Company have tackled some difficult plays in the past – and this is up there with the most challenging. Yet in spite of the difficult subject matter and the very wordy script – they have produced an amazing piece of theatre that had much to say about identity and worth in our high tech, smart phone, isolating times.

The Studio has been transformed into a Perspex box- like board room – where we as the audience sit with the actors who perform in the round. Charlie is a young man who works in the City for a PR firm – but with the pressure of the job and the demands on his time is heading for a breakdown. He is finally tipped over the edge by the death of his mother – and from then his life begins to rapidly unravel. He attempts to ‘do a Reginald Perrin’ and take on a new identity – but is haunted by a pathologist who seems to know all about him. Is he trapped in a nightmare of Kafka-like proportions? Can he escape or is he actually already dead and just looking back on the mistakes and failures of his life?

Jamie Rose is simply brilliant as Charlie – tossed by the winds of fickle fortune – caught up in circumstances bigger and more unwieldy than he can handle. We empathise with his plight while feeling helpless in the face of his inescapable destiny. Peter Ling is a worthy counterpart as Mike – his dodgy advisor and mentor who seems to have it all sorted but at what cost? The rest of the eleven strong cast play the supporting roles of Charlie’s life with a professionalism and belief that belies their ages. The ensemble work is spot on – and there is no weak link in this very dedicated company.

This is a fast paced production that hardly draws breath – directed tightly by Rob Salmon who manages to bring out an exceptional amount of humour from what is essentially a dark story.

The first half takes us through Charlie’s life at the office – his loneliness, his frustrations and anger – and we feel his pain. The script loses its way a little bit with repetition in the second half as he finds ways of ditching his identify for a new one – and it could do with some editing – but it draws to a powerful conclusion that leaves Charlie stripped literally and figuratively of everything that made him who he was.

This is a play with adult themes and strong language that is at times uncomfortable to watch. But this hard working cast deserve congratulating for tackling this play head on and producing such a flawless performance. Do see it if you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Suzanne Hawkes

 

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