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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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There have been a myriad of productions exploring the period dubbed "Thatcher's Britain" by the tabloids, not least the current movie, The Iron Lady. But it's always interesting to see a fresh angle on an era that has already been extensively examined.

In Missing, Barney Norris looks at the lives of two teenage brothers, on the edge of adulthood, with all the self-consciousness and uncertainty of that moment in life. Luke (Rob Heaps) is off to university, leaving Andy (Joe Robertson) behind, in more than just the physical sense. Although they share a bedroom, they have opposite tastes in most things - music, aspirations, outlook.

After a brief failed attempt to be in a rock band, scuppered by his lack of his own guitar and no money, Andy decides to follow his father into the Army, throwing the family into shock. But what other options are there for him when there are no jobs? He sums up his life with a succinct comment: "I'm 18, Margaret Thatcher ruined my life and I live in Andover."

Told in a series of scenes which dart forward and back in time, the story is framed by Luke remembering the relationship the brothers shared, seeing the ghosts of their lives from five years previously. As he reminisces and looks through his brother's belongings, he realises that he and Andy weren't so dissimilar after all.

Heaps and Robertson are convincing as the two brothers, bringing out the underlying emotion of the awkward conversations the brothers share, with nicely nuanced performances. The script is well-written with a degree of humour among the introspection. Direction by Alice Hamilton is sure, although there remains some room for tightening the pace in a couple of scenes. The time-shifting of the story is well-defined and well-handled by the actors.

There is clearly lots of talent in the young Up In Arms theatre group and it will be interesting to see how they develop. With Missing, there are hints of better things to come.

- Carole Gordon


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