Theatre preview: Hidden goes on tour

Kevin Bourke
Photo of a man and a woman embracing against a black background

We take a look at Hidden, a play with a very modern premise.

Hidden opens with a genuine surprise. It then twists and turns its way through the interweaving and unraveling lives of six young people living and loving in a city sprawl, resulting in what is a thoroughly intriguing and highly imaginative piece of theatre. Laura Lindsay and Peter Carruthers, both actors and theatre-makers, have penned all six parts; they also divide the roles between them for the performance. It’s a show that has already been successful at the Edinburgh Fringe – and at a series of dates throughout the northwest, including fringe theatre festival re:play at The Lowry, Studio Salford and Bolton Octagon. However, the upcoming shows at Scarborough (17 May) and Derby (23 May) are likely to be the last local-ish dates in the foreseeable future: which is one reason why we’ve brought it to your attention.

“This is a play about all of us and the secrets we keep”

Lindsay and Carruthers met during training at Manchester’s Arden School of Theatre, where they discovered “a mutual love of new writing, an interest in human psychology and a shared dark sense of humour.” Not long after, Lindsay formed Black Toffee, a production company with the goal of producing “high quality theatre and film which reflect modern society and challenge perspectives.” It’s a laudable aim, although Lindsay admits that “actually the initial inspiration for Hidden was creating acting work for ourselves.” She laughs and adds that, nonetheless, “we were keen for the writing to encompass the things we are passionate about; relationships and the psychology of ordinary people, like us.”

Carruthers explained more of their process: “the starting point with each character in Hidden was asking the question ‘what are they hiding from the rest of the world and why?’ The central theme is isolation, but this is a play about all of us and the secrets we keep.” Hidden is part of a wealth of art currently being created in response to the digital age and echoes the anxiety expressed by many across many different forms. “We wanted to acknowledge the irony that society is more connected than ever technologically, but we are distinctly disconnected on a more human level,” says Lindsay. “Social media, with its minute-by-minute updates on thoughts and feelings, gives the illusion of us being open and honest, but this online presence is often a constructed identity of ourselves. In fact we actually know very little about what is really going on in each other’s hearts and minds.” It’s a troubling and provocative premise for a piece of theatre – which might be one of the reasons why it’s so popular. And now is the time to catch Hidden before it goes viral.

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