Four seasons after her husband Tom’s disappearance, Colette remains emotionally paralyzed, isolated in a country cottage. She waits in anguish, not knowing whether he is dead or alive, but clinging to hope. A young stranger in a jean jacket waves to her from the frozen lake - a sign? She emerges to give him her husband’s parka - strangely, the boy has a likeness to Tom.
What is the stranger’s connection to her geologist husband, kidnapped more than a year before by leftist guerrillas in Colombia? How does this slyly seductive young stranger happen to show up at her home in rural Ontario, thousands of miles away? He seems to know more about Colette than he should, and as he slowly insinuates himself into her life, Colette’s attentive sister, Evelyn, and her helpful neighbor Bill become increasingly alarmed.
Part mystery, part moving story of vanished love, In Absentia explores the notion of disappearance, articulated in very personal terms. Through the tough, time-shifting action of the play, Colette reflects on her marriage and past love, offering rich associative memories while also uncovering the hidden and inaccessible - that which is made to disappear from view.
Guilt and grief, infidelity and infertility, loss and longing are the deeper subjects Panych explores here. At the same time, the play examines the desire to make connections in life - thoughts to deeds, intentions to outcomes - in scenes often enlivened by the playwright’s trademark humor.
Cast of 3 men and 2 women.