An occasional high-profile case does make the news, but not a lot is said about the majority of missing people. It’s ironic, as this solo show points out, that many of those who are "missing" go un-missed. The Man on the Moor, written and performed by Max Dickins, is about one man’s obsession with his father’s disappearance 20 years ago.
The 31-year-old protagonist starts off in a deep baritone, telling us about how he misses his father "not just with my eyes, but with all of me." We are then plunged into his experiences of founding and running a support group for people who are left behind. We hear, too, about his relationship with his mother – and her new partner when she eventually moves on – and finally, his search for for reasons or clues that might explain the disappearance.
One day he sees his father’s photo in a police appeal, calling for information about a dead man found on a lonely hill. A good part of the show is taken up by the search and its eventual outcome, all tied up with a true story of a disappearance, which is used as a backdrop for the narrative.
The writing is creative and tight-knit, but on the day I attended, the monologue was affected by some fumbled lines. The mother's appearance on video is also strange; personally, I found it much more natural when Dickins narrates the other side of the dialogue himself.
Overall, I like the point that the show is trying to make, which is that we never really know another person – even though they may be very close to us. We think we know them, and we make up our own mental identity for them; sometimes they conform to that picture, and sometimes they don’t. And it is only when something momentous happens or something shifts in our lives that we seek to understand people’s real motives. This is a worthwhile post-lunch watch about family, identity, and our understanding of those close to us.