Hide and Seek

Tobia Rossi, translated by Carlotta Brentan
ZAVA Productions in association with Lorenzo Mannelli and Park Theatre
Park Theatre

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Nico Cetrulo as Mirko and Louis Scarpa as Gio Credit: Mariano Gobbi
Louis Scarpa as Gio and Nico Cetrulo as Mirko Credit: Mariano Gobbi
Louis Scarpa as Gio Credit: Mariano Gobbi

Hide And Seek is set in a small rural Italian town but has a story that resonates well-beyond geographical boundaries.

Playwright Tobia Rossi looks below the surface idyl of communities surrounded by landscapes of woods and olive groves to shine a light on the bastions of social discrimination that perpetuate there, or more precisely the targets of their bigotry and prejudice.

In his play, gay teenager Gio flees the debasing bullying meted out at school and the apparent indifference of his mother to live alone in a nearby cave, swapping social isolation for physical segregation in a place where “you can be whatever you want… no one makes you do anything”. In this sanctuary of sorts, in the dark, amongst his stockpiled tinned food and bottled water, Mirko, a peer from school, stumbles upon him and a strange friendship blossoms.

Rossi’s writing is observant and enhanced by subtle complexities of character and relationship. He captures Gio’s teenage blend of innocence and worldly wisdom fashioned from assiduously watching those around him and an obsession with real life crime and missing persons.

Cool boy Mirko is in many ways the antithesis to Gio, happy, successful at school with friends and attentive parents, although it emerges that his self-confidence is more fragile than Gio’s inner assuredness.

Mirko is hostage to his personal popularity rating as judged by social media, and whilst Gio doesn’t want to be found, he equally doesn’t want to be forgotten. Through Mirko, Gio’s only contact with the outside world, the boys work the media, tipping attention in one direction or another and testing their influence on the socials for their own ends without thought to the consequences.

It is the lot of teenagers that they must square the circle of wanting to be uniquely themselves but also fit in with everyone around them, but Rossi elevates this coming-of-age story by stealthily morphing it into tragedy.

Director (and translator) Carlotta Brentan balances the dark comedy of the piece with credence and doesn’t hold back on the unease.Powerful performances from Louis Scarpa as Gio and Nico Cetrulo as Mirko, under Alex Forey’s alternating bright and gloomy monochrome lighting, ramp up the discomfort as the boys shrug off their youthful winsomeness.

Echoes of Lord of the Flies point to a raw and savage ending with the finger of guilt pointing beyond the adults to the malevolent power of social media.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti

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