Trafalgar Studios, Studio 2
Performance date: 2 October 2013
Until 26 October 2013
Promotional material for Hidden in the Sand describe it as “a beautiful and passionate love story set between London and Cyprus”. In truth, the love story takes second place in this moving piece dealing with loss of homeland, betrayal, family rivalry and managing grief.
Written and directed by James Phillips, the play is set in the shadow of another modern conflict, the Kosovo war. It opens with the burgeoning affair between Alexandra (Sally Dexter), a Greek Cypriot refugee who has made a life for herself in London, and Jonathon (Scott Handy), an English academic. Alex and Jonathon luxuriate in having found someone special, not leaving Alex’s flat for days until Alex’s niece Sophia (Daphne Alexander) arrives. Unintentionally, Sophia reminds Alex of her home, the promises she has made to herself and others. Alex turns away from the loving future offered by Jonathon and returns to the half-life of her memories. Will she remain trapped that way forever?
The intimacy of Trafalgar Studio 2 was excellent for this play, although at times, the staging of the play felt forced. At one point Sophia, sitting cross-legged precariously on a chair looked about to fall off, at another, the Alex gingerly sat on chairs placed (deliberately) on their sides. The issue of Cyprus does not really occupy many column inches these days, and it was welcome to be reminded of this still so recent trauma.
While a love story does book-end the action, for me, the emotional core of this play was the dynamic between Alex and her sister Eleni, in a very strong performance from Yolanda Vazquez. The actresses capture the nuances of sibling rivalry and present two opposing ways of dealing with grief. Who loved best, and who loved longest, and whether it really matters any more. Daphne Alexander as Sophia, although passionate, hadn’t quite found her stride with some of the comic lines and did better with righteous indignation.
Hidden in the Sand is a little gem: an honest and rewarding exploration of later-life love and loss.