Hidden is a series of short monologues and dialogues with a great deal of humour but with a dark centre. It is delivered with style and passion by its authors who each play three characters. Each has a connection with other characters but the tenuous narrative thread that links them all is not the point of the piece. It’s a bumpy and uneven ride but the writing – and the performances – carry the audience through the play with real engagement.
Laura Lindsay plays Claire, Nina, and Cara. Of the three, Claire, the foul-mouthed Glaswegian check-out worker, is the most vivid and Lindsay invests her with an energy and wit that is compelling. The audience, mostly young people, of which I was part, really wanted her to find the man she was looking for by the end of the play. The two other characters she plays are less engaging. Nina, the civil servant, wondering about a pregnancy and about her partner James, is less easy to empathise with and her dilemmas yield no surprises. Cara’s office canteen encounter with co-worker Gareth is toe-curling but not much else.
Peter Carruthers plays Colin, Gareth, and James and has the two stand-out monologues of the evening. As James he recounts a series of encounters with a woman on the commuter train to Manchester Victoria which gather an erotic momentum as they build to the climax. And as Colin he drafts the email response to Nina that we all dream of writing last thing on a Friday – he deletes it before sending but the alternative response is drafted with the same level of venom. A brilliant scene. But in contrast his breakfast scene as Gareth recounting a homo-erotic dream is the least successful of the show.
The piece is slickly managed – a simple set with a Lowry-like backdrop, a table, some chairs, a sofa, and a series of well-chosen posters hung on the wall to give a hint of context to each scene. All moved around by the two performers who managed the transitions between the scenes so speedily and effectively that it almost feels like a set of TV fades between scenes. It is, though, the feel that this is a series of scenes from some unfinished sitcoms and soaps that is the least successful feature of the evening. Although there are some brilliant moments – and the performers are great at engaging the sympathy of the audience – it never seemed more than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, it does work very well in a small intimate space like The Cockpit Theatre and the two writers are clearly destined for bigger and better things.