Mercury Theatre Colchester
Dyspraxia is often referred to as a ‘hidden’ disability, a developmental disorder of the brain that causes difficulty in coordination and movement. Playwright Nicola Werenoska discovered that, once she was diagnosed, a lot of her life clicked into place- the inability to do up buttons, to turn the key correctly in a door, to use the machines at the launderette, could no longer be put down to clumsiness or forgetfulness. Using her experience, she has written Hidden, and it provides an informative evening about the condition.
Set against the background of the economic crash of 2008, the play tells the story of Chris, a confident, on the verge of arrogant, city lawyer, and Jess, a PhD student, an unlikely couple who are attracted to each other and, on the surface, have a happy relationship. But there is something unspoken, hidden, and that is Jess’s dyspraxia, and it’s only when it is diagnosed in her son, does Jess discover she has adult dyspraxia.
Lewis Goody and Millie Proust are excellent as the couple, he capturing perfectly the swagger and confidence of Chris, yet his edges smoothed out by love for Jess, and she convincingly plays the frustration of her condition. The play is beautifully written and the actors move seamlessly between narration and dialogue as they take us through the relationship, right up to their son’s tenth birthday party. Crisply directed by Scott Hurran, on a highly effective set, this is a sharp 75 minutes and is a play of gentle revelations.
Yet that tenderness in the writing also holds the play back a little. The dramatic stakes are never raised too high- Chris loses his job but his subsequent unemployment is more of an inconvenience than a situation that can really scupper their marriage. When Jess fails to do up the buckle on her son’s buggy, her fear and frustration is brilliantly played, yet ultimately there is little consequence to the actions. Instead, we get a beautifully played and tender evening that does much to raise awareness of the condition, and there is little wrong with that!