According to Missing People, an estimated 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year; but where do they go, why do they leave and what happens to those they leave behind?
In a thought provoking and poignant play, Hood looks to explore these questions by shining a light on two young girls, one missing and one about to be.
On one side is the mother and father of a missing girl (Carly), who we never meet, from a well to do area in London. We never understand why Carly is missing, as it seems she had a happy life with a stable home. We watch how this uncertianty eats away at both parents, and ultimately leading to a break down in their marriage.
On the other side, with a father in prison, a mother with mental health issues and a brother who is desperate for a new start, is Katy (Charlotte Brooke). A cheeky but loveable girl, she faces a world very different to that of Carly’s and seems destined to end up running away.
The clever use of two contrasting families means we are exposed to two completely different narratives and yet lead to the identical results of two girls going missing. As an audience this pushes us to have to get rid of any preconceived ideas about what kind of situation leads to a missing person.
Hood’s not preaching, she’s offering a look at two possibilities and allowing us to make our own conclusions.
For example, when Greg’s wife (Tracey Wilkinson) accuses him of touching his daughter and therefore causing her to run away we feel angry at her as we can clearly see his grief.
Later we then see Katy’s mother (Maggie Saunders) turn a blind eye to her husband raping her daughter and we are horrified.
These contrasting scenes offer the audience a chance to really question the snap judgments that we are all inclined to make and re-think the notion that it could only ever happen to particular people.
The unpredictability of ‘Dangling’ was something I adored. Moments of humour and sadness cascade over one another in a way which means you remain engaged throughout the intense and somewhat emotionally draining hour and a half.
There are a fair few twisting and turning storylines in this play and an equal number of unanswered questions. All of which are strung together by short snappy scene changes in an almost soap opera style. It could easily have become confusing, however Hood and the rest of the cast managed to prevent this and deliver a clear journey, seamlessly linking them all together.
Dealing with rape, domestic violence, murder and much more this will not be something you leave smiling to however it will make you think, think what you would do if the worst should happen.
As I left the play I found myself walking home looking at the people taking refuge in shop doorways, and under bridges on the way home in a completely different way, wondering if they had someone at home missing them.
This maybe a tiny stage, but it doesn’t stop Abigail Hood’s ‘Dangling’ making a big impact. ****
‘Dangling’ is at the Southwark Playhouse until 26th August and you can get tickets here.