Fin Kennedy's How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found is a play about identity and the traces we leave on the world around us. It won the 2005 Arts Council’s John Whiting Award and was subsequently staged at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield, with performances from 23 March 2007.
When Charlie, a young executive, reaches breaking point and decides to disappear, he pays a visit to a master of the craft in a seafront fortune teller’s in Southend. Haunted by visitations from a pathologist who swears he is already lying flat out on her slab, he begins a nightmarish journey to the edge of existence that sees him stripped of everything that made him who he was.
In an article included in the published edition, Fin Kennedy writes that the idea for the play came from looking at the website of the National Missing Person's Helpline, and from his subsequent discovery of a guide to changing one's identity entitled How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found. 'Leaving one's former identity behind and starting over seems to be an almost existential act; a yearning for good faith in a world which fetishises the fake. What makes you authentic? And how do you know you're real? These may not be new questions, but they are more relevant than ever, and no less terrifying – or unanswerable.'
When the play was awarded the 38th John Whiting Award for New Writing, it was the first time that the prize had been given to an unproduced play. The script had reportedly been rejected by nearly every theatre in London.
The Crucible premiere was directed by Ellie Jones and designed by Ellen Cairns. It was performed by William Ash, Richard Bremmer, Sian Brooke, Esther Ruth Elliott and Steve Hansell.
The production was revived at the Southwark Playhouse, London, on 8 October 2008.