Italian playwright Tobia Rossi brings to London one of the best shows of this year’s Vault Festival. Hide and seek (translated from the Italian “Il nascondino”), directed by Carlotta Brentan, tells the story of Gio and Mirko. Set in a small Italian town, Gio runs away and hides in a cave, feeling unaccepted by his friends, family and teachers. He is constantly bullied. One day he decides that enough is enough: he disappears, but he is found by his popular classmate Mirko. Their friendship becomes a journey to self-acceptance and trust until the dramatic, unexpected final twist.

Keeping the audience on the edge of their seats for 75 minutes, the play touches so many important aspects of being a gay teenager: loneliness and social isolation, bullying and cyberbullying, peer pressure, lack of self-confidence, cyber addiction and social discrimination.

Nico Cetrulo and Issam Al Ghussain have great chemistry and are great for the role: they are naïve and innocent. They both capture the trauma of living in a place where you don’t fit in, and create an immediate connection with the audience. Issam is a perfect Gio: he is candid but hurt. The world outside has been looking for him for weeks, but this doesn’t really matter. He has now found someone who he can finally trust, and maybe this will give him the strength to go out of the cave with his head held high.

Italy passed legislation legalising same-sex civil unions in 2016. It was the last country in Western Europe to do so, and it happened after a European court ruled that the country violated human rights by failing to offer enough legal protection and recognition for same-sex couples. Hide and seek gives an honest, fresh and moving picture of what it means to be raised in a close-minded community. It is one of those plays that will stay with you for a long time.


It runs until 23 February 


Photos: Mariano Gobbi