nytheatre.com review by Reagan Wilson
May 20, 2007
Kudos to director Ian Morgan for the simplistic style he creates for Missing Time by Michael Brandt. The evening opens with Tarantino-esque funky jazz seeping out of the speakers and a soft blue hue rising to illuminate a wooden podium. We find ourselves at a conference for mental health professionals. The topic is abduction... by aliens.
Sam Rosen plays abductee Josh Weston, and serves up the first monologue of the evening, describing how he's just a normal guy who was abducted one fateful night. Rosen almost seems like he was born to play this role, an average guy fidgeting under the uncomfortable glare of his audience, yet, as much as I enjoyed listening to his tale the analysis of the abduction as provided by Dr. Andrew Trammell (played by James Himelsbach) is even more entertaining. For anyone who's taken a psychology course, Himelsbach's delivery strongly resembles that of any lecture hall professor's. He presents a delicious theory on the staggering four million abduction cases reported since the 1950s. In fact, for those who have recently graduated college, the lecture-style delivery might leave you feeling nostalgic or nauseous, depending on your college experience.
But before you break out your old school jersey and call up the gang to reminisce over wild nights in life before the 9 to 5 job, hang on to your seats kids—there's one more character to meet. He's Brandon Lile, played by the author Michael Brandt, Weston's childhood friend and the keeper of the play's wittiest lines. Lile's remarks on Weston's abduction and his personal experience with abduction (his pet Japanese fighting fish went missing one night) are welcome and humorous. Though when he laments about how the missing fish and Weston's belief in alien abduction have affected his job, you kind of wonder why the guy doesn't just get a new job.
Yes, it's all fun and games until Weston and Dr. Trammell have one last therapy session in the end. Weston speaks his mind to a non-responsive Dr. Trammell. We want Dr. Trammell to react, to respond, after all he has a lot on the line. But alas the author has left Dr. Trammell (and the audience) stuck listening to a long-winded explanation from Josh about how his life has fallen apart.
As Lile puts it, "Our beliefs make us who we are. They define us." Missing Time will ask you to question your beliefs. What it doesn't ask is for you to connect with the characters, to care about them, to relate to them, to understand what it is to be human. If questioning your beliefs is on your list of self-improvement tips, then go enjoy this play for what it is—a nice play with some nice performances and a wonderful funky jazz beat.