Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

A Disappearing

On Saturday evening, May 14th, we went to the Walker’s Point Center for the Performing Arts to see “A Disappearing”, the Midwest premier of a new play by Milwaukee playwright Mark Wyss, who also produced. (Mark is also my next-door neighbor, and he and his wife Sandra, who designed the sets for the show, have worked on a number of the same productions I have in the past.)

“A Disappearing” was originally presented in a shorter form at the Albuquerque short play festival in 2014, where it won “Audience Favorite”. This was the first showing of the expanded version.

The play opens as lights come up on the kitchen of Alan and Claire, a suburban couple (Ryan H. Nelson and Michelle White). It’s evident a child’s birthday party is in progress from the cake, hats, and presents on the table. Alan, Claire, and “The Great Marvin” enter, with an argument already in progress. Marvin (Luke Summers) is the magician Claire hired to entertain at their son’s party. Marvin has evidently succeeded in making a heckling child, Tommy, disappear, to general consternation, since he has no idea how he did it, or how, or if, the child can be returned. He may have gone “where lost socks go,” as Marvin speculates.

A tumultuous debate ensues as Alan and Claire try to get their minds around what has happened and wonder what to do. Marvin is alternately appalled and delighted by his new-found power. After a wide-ranging and hilarious discussion, which includes the possible monetization of making inconvenient people go away, Alan takes on the duty of phoning Tommy’s parents to deliver the bad news. The act ends as he is on the phone to them.

Then, the audience moved from the “blue box” performance space at the back of the building, to the front room of the Center, representing the living room of Tommy’s parents, Sheila and Rob (Marilou Davido and John McGreal). They are a slightly younger, somewhat more yuppie couple, who are trying to enjoy a bit of “alone time” while Tommy’s at the party. This has marginal success, since Tommy intrudes even without being their, which results in a discussion about their troublesome child, in which Rob wistfully speculates on what life would be like without Tommy. They are just beginning to settle down when the phone rings, and we hear the other side of Alan’s call. This devolves from incredulity through dismay to hysteria as the message sinks in that their only child has indeed disappeared into thin air.

The third act was back in the “blue box,” now Alan and Claire’s living room. Sheila and Rob have arrived, and recriminations fly thick and fast, while possible solutions are thin on the ground. The play works out as a very funny, very black comedy, which dares to ask the question probably hidden in the hearts of most parents when looking at the fruit of their loins in those inevitable unlovely moments, “what if?”

All of the actors did a very fine job with Mr. Wyss’ edgy script. Direction, by Tim Kietzman, made sure the action and dialog was fast and appropriately furious. We found the delivery, especially of the argumentative scenes, to be very believable, and the wording naturalistic.

We had a fine time at “A Disappearing” and enjoyed very much, as did the rest of the audience. “A Disappearing” continues Friday and Saturday, the 20th and 21st. Tickets can be had at

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Tags: theatre
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