Boy meets boy, in a cave. Gio has had enough of the hostile world, so he's going to hide for a while. He has it all figured out: he packs food, water, a change of clothes and a few other survival items; leaves a note; posts one last TikTok before smashing his phone to avoid being tracked; and finally, he disappears. But when Mirko finds him in his hideaway, it appears that Gio doesn't want to vanish. He asks if his TikTok has gone viral, if anyone is looking for him. He seems strangely concerned with his appearance. He's hiding to be found. Mirko is drawn to him and keeps coming back to the cave, to bring him more food, news from the world and for Gio's company. In the darkness, they find a safe secret corner, where they can be themselves. 

Alex Forey's exquisite lighting design and Simone Manfredini's original music transform the Park 90's stage into a very intimate hideaway where the audience is welcomed into Gio and Mirko's inner private world. They cleverly accompany our characters' shifts and moods without overpowering the performers. Tobia Rossi's writing (originally in Italian – translated by director Carlotta Brentan) vividly captures the teen's spirit. Gio and Mirko are fluidly trying to figure out who they are and what they want; they act like grown-ups with all the answers to fight the prying judgement of their peers. Deep down they're scared and clueless boys. Their hearts beat fast, their minds are running non-stop. Brentan's directing is excellent at consistently choosing exactly the right pace throughout the whole 85 minutes. It ultimately packs a very tough punch and it's hard to look away. Louis Scarpa (Gio) and Nico Cetrulo's (Mirko) playful chemistry brings out the humor and the tenderness of the text very nicely. You can't help but feel for these lonely souls in search for shelter. 

“Hide and Seek” confidently avoids the trap of indulgently stalling that comes with a one-location piece. On the contrary, it's always engaging and exciting led by its pressing and urgent questions. Is it safe to live your truth? Or do we have to hide the best parts of ourselves to survive? In this social media age, are we authentically connected? Can we turn off the noise and celebrate our uniqueness? Or is it better to act like everyone else and blend in with the crowd? To carry on, lonely and dead inside, hoping one day to be found. Our society keeps evolving but this brilliant piece of theatre powerfully reminds us that the world isn't yet a kind and safe place for everyone. Simply being different is still a cause for unforgivable violence. “Hide and Seek” beautifully depicts the dance of disappearing to be seen. Shines a light on the human need to feel visible and connected. In the darkness, it quietly invites us to find ourselves and reclaim “the dirty thing in the woods”. And, when we're brave enough, to come out exactly as we are.   


It runs at Park Theatre until 30th March.


Review: Francesco Pagnoncelli   Photo: Mariano Gobbi