The lights go down. The show is about to start. I’m sat in the audience waiting and the man next to me starts to speak. ‘So you’re sat in a theatre, right,’ he begins loudly and before you know it, he’s talking about the urge to scream and shout in a quiet auditorium. Suddenly he’s on stage, jumping round in a circle with his bum out, yelling his head off. As openings go, it’s one you’re unlikely to forget.
Hidden tells the stories of six characters with overlapping lives, revealing to the audience the thing they wouldn’t want other people knowing: Claire’s desperate for a shag, Cara wishes she were thinner, James is resting his leg against someone else’s on the train to work, breaking every rule in the commuter book. All of the roles are played by two astonishingly versatile actors, Laura Lindsay and Peter Carruthers, who manage to make each character instantly recognisable but also realistic and engaging. Lindsay switches between Claire’s Glaswegian bawdy and the uptight worries of middle-class Nina without batting an eyelid, you never stop being gripped by her performance.
The two actors wrote the script together, a remarkable text not just for the way the lives of the characters are twisted so seamlessly together, but also for its broad scope, flitting deftly between the hilarious and the emotionally arresting. It can switch from one-liners (‘I’ll pray to Aslan if it works’) to exquisite awkwardness (a man struggling to surreptitiously eat a sausage) to genuinely moving human encounters. Even the set, designed by Alex Swarbrick, is a delight, the furniture edged with black lines to give it a stylised, cartoonish look.
This production is a bit special. It’s touching and funny, it’s beautifully acted and written, it will grab your attention and refuse to let it go. See it while you still can.