The synopsis of this intriguing one-woman drama can more or less be summed up by its title:
Nina’s theories on Ailsa’s whereabouts become more sinister
With a gripping crime at its core, this play had me guessing at possible scenarios throughout. Though we are only offered one perspective, MacLaren convincingly shows the devastating effect of this case on a close-knit community. In addition, by switching between young and old Nina, we can observe how the character has continued to be effected by the events of her childhood. Though adult Nina is heavily pregnant, this doesn’t feature into the plot as much as it could do and seems bolted on as an additional narrative component rather than weaved into the performance. Ailsa Benson Is Missing also concludes disappointingly. Its ending feels somewhat abrupt and, having been so thoroughly developed throughout, the mystery comes to a sudden halt.
In MacLaren’s performance, there are times when young Nina doesn’t seem quite young enough. The pink hoodie and bright trainers convey a youthfulness that doesn’t always come across. However, MacLaren manages to show an interesting tipping point when Nina’s banal theories on Ailsa’s whereabouts become more sinister and disturbed as the case haunts her imagination. Furthermore, she convincingly captures the mistrust and suspicion that floods through the school as news of Ailsa’s disappearance hits.
Fans of crime drama will enjoy Ailsa Benson Is Missing for its fascinating narrative. This may not be a perfect performance, but there’s at least a good story.