The Man on the Moor

A story of people who disappear and the effects on those they leave behind

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Man on the Moor
Published 11 Aug 2017

On 12 December 2015, a body was found on Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District. The man, in his 60s, wasn't identified for more than a year.

In Britain, someone goes missing every eight minutes. Of those, 2,000 people a year never come back. In his one-man show, author and performer Max Dickins is inspired by the story of the man on the moor to look at the reasons someone goes missing and the effects on their loved ones.

Dickins is captivating as Matthew, a fictional character based on another real-life disappearance, whose father vanished more than 20 years ago. He sees an article about the man on the moor, and believes it's his dad.

He's one of 40 people who contacted the police after seeing footage of the man on the moor—eventually discovered to be David Lytton—believing him to be their missing relative. This highlights the tricks the brain can play to make you see what you want to see.

The results of a DNA test come in, and Matthew goes through his dad's belongings, trying to find clues he may have missed before. He realised that he didn't really know him at all—"There's a core of us all that's unreachable"—and in that knowledge, finds catharsis.

The writing is where the play shines. The language is intricate and lyrical, drawing you into the story. There are some wonderfully poetic lines, and Dickins interweaves fact and fiction, looking into the minds of those left behind.

To be missing, says Matthew, you have to be missed. You'd be a fool to miss this.