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Ailsa Benson is Missing review at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh – ‘strongly honed examination of a child’s abduction’

Samara MaClaren in Ailsa Benson is Missing. Photo: Alex Brenner Samara MaClaren in Ailsa Benson is Missing. Photo: Alex Brenner
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Tough lawyer Nina returns to her rooms to await the verdict on a particularly brutal case of child abuse – the chilling evidence awakening memories of her own childhood when, aged 14, her ex-best friend Ailsa Benson went missing.

Skooshing off her kitten heels, Samara MacLaren is exact and precise as the hard-working lawyer, fielding calls from her partner about their first child – as she strokes her own distended and pregnant tummy – and her clerk arranging the next prosecution.

Directed with a strong understanding of the nature of innocence by Marilyn Imrie, MacLaren is more fuzzy around the edges as she reveals memories of teenage life. Her script explores that age of passion and angst with real understanding, always revealing just enough information to keep every plot option open.

Although the final truth is gut wrenching in its brutality, it is the arrival at that truth that is most unsettling. That distant autumn is seen first with the certainty that all would be alright, drifting into the fear of the unknown and on to a more intense and awful fear that the known might not be as it seems. Everyone falls under suspicion and communities begin to fall apart.

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Verdict
Strongly honed examination of a child's abduction on the surrounding community
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