Theatre Review: The Archive of Missing Things

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Zuppa Theatre deserves a lot of praise for creating an immensely layered and immersive labyrinth. The Archive of Missing Things is a fantastical and factual collaboration written by Zuppa members and award-winning writer Kate Cayley, with musical compositions by Brian Riley and Stewart Legere, and web design by Ned Zimmerman.

Dalhousie’s Killam Library is the perfect venue for creating the isolated experience Archive demands. Upon entry, participants are equipped with headphones, an iPad, and an “Archivist Notebook”, then sent on their own for ninety minutes to navigate the nuanced and often haunting task of finding the elusive, sought-after “heart of the archives.” Save for the occasional voice of some unseen guide leading you further into the dark, this is a trek for you alone. 

Be warned: Not everyone makes it to the core of the archive’s secrets; there are red herrings, and misdirects abound — a single misstep can easily send you down the wrong path and further into Zuppa’s endless vault of random, almost superfluous information. (Think StumbleUpon meets a more trustworthy version of Wikipedia)… not that it happened to me.

Further adding to the sense of crypticness and mystery of the entire event are on-site performances by actors Stewart Legere, Miranda Jones, and Kathryn McCormack (with direction by Alex McLean); every component of theirs serves a purpose but it’s up to you to put the pieces together. A lot of hard work, poignancy, and dedication has gone into Zuppa’s newest event. It is thoughtful and profound, questioning many of life’s deepest philosophical uncertainties. If the reactions of last night’s archive-hunters were any indication of how much this event was enjoyed, I can safely say this is a search for truth you don’t want to miss. 

Zuppa Theatre‘s presentation of The Archive of Missing Things is on now through Saturday, May 27th at the Dalhousie Killam Memorial Library as part of Eastern Front Theatre’s Stages Festival; tickets are available online.

Photo credit: Stewart Legere

About the author

Carey Bray

Carey Bray is a local artist, actor/director, and writer residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He has previously written reviews and interviews for The Coast's 2015/2016 Halifax Fringe Festival, Atlantic Books Today, and the online blog, Hello Dartmouth. You'll find more of Carey's work on his blog, Drifted.