Review: How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found - York Theatre Royal

How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found
York Theatre Royal

Wednesday March 21st: I’m fast becoming a fan of York Theatre Royal’s Young Actors Company.  Following the wonderful Little Angels, the group of 18-25 year olds turn their attention to Fin Kennedy’s not so snappily titled How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found.

Following the decline and subsequent reinvention of ad exec Charlie, the production follows our main man as he experiences a breakdown so severe that he feels the only way out is to sever links to his life entirely and become someone new.

As Charlie leaves the high pace, high reward and high pressure world behind him he soon discovers though that the one thing you can’t really leave behind is yourself – no matter how hard you try to change the branding and packaging.

High praise must go to Dave Newton who as Charlie takes most of the weight on his shoulders and puts in a mature and accomplished performance. With a constantly furrowed brow, he expertly takes us through the emotions of a man on the edge struggling to come to terms with himself, the death of his mother and the lack of any true friends in a world focussed on image and appearances.

It would be easy to describe this as essentially a one man show featuring cameo performances but that would do a major disservice to the versatile cast: Fergus Davison, Emma Gallacher, Joe Hopper, Mandie Hudson, Tilda O’Grady, Amy Twiddle and Katie Waller. Between them they put in some truly memorable performances as they introduce us to the numerous characters that drift in and out of Charlie’s life; from the shallow American clients to the Lost and Found clerk in Embankment tube station and the omni-present pathologist. The characterisations are all strong and often provide much needed light relief to what could be a more sombre production. 

The action is accompanied by spoken stage directions. Perhaps these are used to highlight the idea that all of our lives are recorded and constantly monitored but for me they were the one minor misstep of an otherwise excellent show. The cast expertly use Lucy Campbell’s minimalist geometrical set with few props however the narration draws too much attention to this, not letting the audience to sink fully in to their imaginations but jolting them back to reality. But this is but a small criticism of director Julian Ollive’s stylish production.

If you are not a fan of strong language then this is not the show for you – though the use is completely in context and fair for the characters portrayed. For everyone else who wants a well performed, engaging and thought provoking evening of theatre, How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found is well worthy of your time. Keep an eye on this company though as one thing is for certain, they will not be disappearing any time soon.

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found continues in The Studio at York Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 March 2012.

Review by James Eaglesfield