‘It’s not about April’ - play about teenage girl’s 1980s disappearance opens in north Norfolk

A scene from Into Thin Air. Photo: fEAST Theatre

A scene from Into Thin Air. Photo: fEAST Theatre - Credit: Archant

The writer of a play about the disappearance of a north Norfolk teenager in the 1980s has spoken about his inspiration for the work, Into Thin Air.

Dress rehearsal of Into Thin Air. Photo: fEAST Theatre

Dress rehearsal of Into Thin Air. Photo: fEAST Theatre - Credit: Archant

Playwright Rob John, founder of theatre company fEAST was inspired to came up with his 'unresolved mystery' by thinking about the effect an unsolved disappearance has on the people left behind.

Mr John, former drama teacher and Paston College vice principal, said: 'That notion of how people close to the disappeared person cope with their unresolved loss - it got me thinking about how there might be a story here about what happens to these people.

'How long is the shadow cast by a disappeared child?'

Mr John, who lives near Antingham, added that while the subject matter invites comparison with the 1969 disappearance of north Norfolk girl April Fabb, one of the county's best known unsolved cases, the events and characters of his play are entirely fictional.

He said: 'If people say 'what's this play about?' and you say it's about a girl who went missing in north Norfolk they immediately ask if its about April Fabb.

'It was always going to be something that people thought about but it's not in any sense about her.'

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He added: 'It is one of those things that always fascinated me because I drive through the area regularly and always think of her.

'But the central character in my play is very troubled girl and there's no evidence that April Fabb was a difficult girl.

'It's a story that's always resonated with and haunted me.

'I know a lot about [the case] but it's not about April.'

Susan, Into Thin Air's central character goes missing in 1982, and the play, explores a 'series of possibilities', Mr John said.

'It's an unresolved mystery - the notion that the received wisdom may be wrong,' he added.

'People love to play detective.'

The play incorporates evocative news broadcasts and BBC audio reports from the 1980s, and the cast of professional actors includes 24-year-old Charlotte Price, as the wayward 15-year-old Susan, and Owen Evans, of Nimmo Twins fame, as the older of her two brothers.

Mr John said: 'I've tried to do work that has its origins in the region and I work with actors that can talk Norfolk properly.'

Into Thin Air opens tonight (Friday, October 5) at Sheringham Little Theatre.