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Hide and Seek by Zava Productions – Vault Festival

Hide and Seek is a story with conflict running through its very core.

The story of two very different people who are trapped in the pigeon-holes society has put them in, struggling to come to terms with their own identities when they are pressured to be people they are not and are finally freed to be themselves in the claustrophobic single setting of the play.

Nico Cetrulo and Issam Al Ghussain, Hide and Seek, VAULT Festival (credit Mariano Gobbi).
Nico Cetrulo and Issam Al Ghussain, Hide and Seek, VAULT Festival (credit Mariano Gobbi).

Written by Tobia Rossi and directed by Carlotta Brentan, Hide and Seek explores the relationship between two school-age young men living in a small town. Gio (Issan Al Ghussain) has run away from his family home, and is holed up in a cave hoping to escape the pressures of life in the outside world. He is found by Mirko (Nico Cetrulo) and the two begin an initially reluctant and frequently tumultuous relationship.

The two characters are both portrayed as young and innocent with moments of humour and sensitivity but demonstrate significant negative traits. Gio begins the story dominated by self-pity but begins to understand the consequences of his actions as the play progresses and Mirko is introduced as sympathetic and understanding before becoming consumed by his own self-interests.

While I cannot deny that to me both characters were equally unlikeable, I applaud Rossi for unflinchingly offering characters with such flawed personalities to the world and to Gussain and Cetrulo for their excellent portrayal of Gio and Mirko with what I believe to be some of the best onstage violent scenes I have ever seen.

The setting for the production is understated in terms of its stage presentation which is perfectly fitting for what is meant to be a hastily created cave hideout and this realism goes some way to balance the unlikely scenario of a search and rescue operation unable to find a local cave that one of Gio’s classmates stumbles into by accident and goes to unnoticed on a regular basis.

I personally liked the setting for the play, sparse as it was, and it was clear that Brentan’s direction had maximised the use of every item which was good to see. It frequently felt like the movement of the characters had far greater implications for the relationship between them than their physical form would suggest and the slightest movement towards or away from each other weaved into an emotional tug of war.

Always on opposite sides and both trying to win in some intangible way.

Arguably, setting a play in a cave presents considerable challenges in terms of lighting and effects and I would suggest this is the case as the visual and audible effects begin on a strong footing, setting the scene well and enhancing the experience but had moments I found quite jarring and pulled me out of the immersion of the piece. The lighting did offer an excellent modern element with the use of a mobile phone torch which, backed by social media references and modern language, made for a very contemporary presentation.

A modern take on dissociation, isolation, and depression, it would appear that the noble pursuit of highlighting the problem of bullying and homophobia in our current society was the overall priority of the piece and with Gussain and Cetrulo’s excellent performance, it does this in abundance.

Overall, Hide and Seek offers an interesting presentation of a familiar tale and while not necessarily ground-breaking, it’s certainly very engaging.

3 Star Review

Review by Damien Russell

HIDE and SEEK is a darkly entertaining play that pits two teenage boys against each other in the face of contagious hatred and prejudice in their small Italian town. Desperate to escape his reality, Gio runs away and hides in a cave. When his classmate Mirko finds him, the boys embark on an unexpected journey towards self-discovery and acceptance, setting in motion a series of dramatic consequences.

Being yourself is still a risky proposition in our society when it comes to sexual orientation and independent thought. HIDE and SEEK explores how vulnerable young minds can be to loud, discriminatory voices in the media and all around them.
What does it take to accept yourself when nobody else does?

ZAVA Productions

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