Summary of Finding Sophie
(first published in February 2016 Stage Whispers)
Finding Sophie was a “gripping drama, smartly and precisely directed and powerfully performed” said Erik Abbott (Luxembourger Wort). Written and directed by Janice Dunn and performed by Maria Lohmann, this one-woman show depicted four characters’ responses to the fact that Sophie is missing over a twelve-day period.
The switch between characters (mother, detective, friend and agoraphobic man) was swift and compelling. Geoff Thompson (The Chronicle) said that Maria “showed her dexterity in assuming different characters with ease”.
The performance was only a part of the production—the other offering a rare insight into how the writer/director and actor researched and made decisions from the initial idea through to performance. The format seemed to be appreciated by audiences. At each show different issues were raised and it was fascinating to hear how some of Janice’s ideas had been interpreted differently. For example, her decision to leave the end of the play open did not sit well with some audience members as they preferred closure. However, Janice was keen to reflect the situation in many cases where friends and families are left simply not knowing what happened to their loved ones (such as in the UK, where there are 2,000 unaccounted for disappearances every year). Janice has asked many audiences what they think happened to Sophie and the responses were very different from her being killed to running off and starting a new life, to just being with friends and/or eventually returning home.
Janice also spoke of how she made decisions to structure the writing. One of her first decisions was that Sophie would be heard but not seen. From this flowed which characters needed to be present.
Maria shared that this was her first time acting in a one-woman show and talked of the challenges and freedom that it had brought. One of the most interesting decisions was to portray the mother as quite a cold character. Janice wanted to portray a successful woman who was usually in control and therefore hesitant to show emotion in public, however, the reverse was clear when we were invited to watch the more private moments of despair.
NWTC and Fasterpussycat’s first collaboration worked well, with Maria summing up NWTC as “professional, helpful and friendly”.
A thought—provoking and enlightening evening. Thanks to all (wonderful to see some of the schools attending) for supporting this unique production which faced its own challenges with ice rain!