Written for two theatres located in German and Welsh mining towns, Missing is distantly inspired by the Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel but more immediately by the question, “What does it mean nowadays to grow up poor in an economically depressed town?”
Way tells the story from the viewpoints of all four characters – the Dad, the Stepmother, Hansel, a withdrawn and alienated teenager, and Grethel, his much younger sister who has a mental disability that leaves her vulnerable to bullies and evil-doers.
When Hansel – like a detective – traces his sister’s disappearance to the horrible truth, he is still hampered by cops who have him pegged as a juvenile delinquent and a father who is rarely sober enough to act. A tragic outcome seems all but certain until Hansel’s daring plan to lure the kidnapper with a suitcase full of money pays off.
As risky in form as it is in content, this piece leaves the assignment of specific lines to the discretion of each producing company and demands a creative use of movement to support and, in places, replace the text. Evocative and eloquent on the page, Missing has proven its effectiveness in production and in 2010 was honored with the highly prestigious German Children’s Theatre Prize.