REVIEW: Disappeared, Barn Theatre, Southwick

Matt Arnold as Anthony, Susanne Crosby as Ellen Casey, and Phil Nair-Brown as Jack Fallon
Matt Arnold as Anthony, Susanne Crosby as Ellen Casey, and Phil Nair-Brown as Jack Fallon

Phyllis Nagy’s psychological thriller Disappeared sees Wick Theatre Company at the top of their game.

Director Guy Steddon found this gem in a bookshop’s closing down sale when he was a drama student, and has finally brought it to the stage for Wick’s 70th season.

It is fitting to have something so weighty in this anniversary year, something a little different to usual to show the full range of talent at Southwick’s Barn Theatre.

It is long, there is no denying that, but the audience stayed enthralled throughout.

What has happened to Sarah Casey? Nobody knows for sure but everyone has their own theory and it is such a clever text, that almost any option can be justified.

It is hard to say too much without spoiling it, as you really are kept guessing right up to the end.

The scenes are not written in chronological order, jumping backwards and forwards so little clues are dropped. During the second half, everything begins to drop into place – or does it?

Such a demanding piece requires the best actors you can find in amateur theatre and Guy has put together a stellar cast for this one.

Dan Dryer is positively menacing in the role of Elston Rupp. He delivers his long soliloquies at a steady pace, pausing for effect, so it becomes more and more creepy as we learn more and more about him.

Susanne Crosby, in contrast, is loud and brash, a brilliant performance as Sarah’s mum, Ellen Casey.

Sarah Frost plays Elston’s boss, Natalie, and the way she responds to him helps build the vision of him as a little odd, indeed sinister.

John Garland is the detective, Ted Mitchell, and his interrogation scene with Elston is just mesmerising as you wait to see who will crack first.

The part of Timothy Creighton is something a bit different for H Reeves and he puts in a moving performance as a man caught up in the mystery simply because of his clothes.

And so to Sarah Casey, who is in many ways lost in terms of her life as well as in reality, and a strong performance from Jacqueline Harper. Although she has disappeared, she crops up throughout, due to the way the timeline is twisted, and Jacqueline uses this to develop the character.

There is a lot of humour in the play but it is also very dark. It is haunting and challenging and will leave you talking about it for hours.

Performances are at the Barn Theatre in Southwick at 7.45pm daily until Saturday. Tickets £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or at www.wicktheatre.co.uk