Fair reflection

10 April 2017

It's the smaller moments of Hidden that charm Phoebe Graham

Sonder: the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Hidden is the love child of Creature Comforts and Jim Cartwright. A mismatch bunch of men and women tell us their secret worries of lacking love in an intermingled series of tumbled thoughts and awkward conversations as their lives cross over. Hidden holds a mirror up to the ordinary lives of the lonely through overlooked moments of brushing legs, restocking condoms, repressing urges, pissing on pregnancy sticks and dreaming of the sex you didn’t even know you wanted.

Originally written and performed by Laura Lindsay and Peter Carruthers, Hidden’s buried-treasure success at the Edinburgh Fringe leaves some pretty big blazers and aprons to fill. Both Georgina Franklin and Harvey Comerford meet their match with assured comic performances that gradually grow to fit their different characters’ sizes, shapes and dialects. But it’s their little glances that speak the loudest, revealing the thoughts that escape when we think no one is looking.

Each monologue and duologue could work in episodic isolation, but the stitching together of each individual narrative widens and focuses these nuanced snapshots of modern life. Director Alex Prescot strips back all pretence to a set of two chairs used by all six characters. It’s all about what’s going on inside the head, so everything is laid bare and nothing is allowed to hide.

By prioritising thought over action, the process of establishing a character’s exposition and then having to orchestrate each connection means that some moments drag, some seem superfluous and some lack the clarity in trying to negotiate the subtleties of the interwoven timelines. Several transitions feel like a fricative full stop as opposed to a comma. They work best when they accentuate the links between each relationship, seamlessly flowing from one thought stream into another, rather than just a means of getting from A to B. 

But real life isn’t always quick-witted or fast-paced, and it certainly never goes smoothly. The content of Hidden is entirely unfiltered – there’s no 140-character limit here. When my constructed online life has me sprinting to keep up with myself, shows like Hidden make me want to switch my phone off and remember my pleases and thank-yous. It’s sometimes the simplest and most ordinary of words that mean the most and hit the hardest.

I found Hidden’s venue completely by accident, and honestly came out feeling as lonely and lost as I went in, checking my phone and flitting between blue birds and cat memes. But an hour or so later, Hidden found its place in the wise words of Michael Brazier during Saturday’s Opening Ceremony. He said that the massive conversations at NSDF can only be made up of small conversations spoken in the corridor and in the bar. Hidden showcases these smaller moments and prizes their significance in our grander narratives. A fitting and endearing opening for the week to come.

Send your reviews, thoughts and jokes to: noff@nsdf.org.uk