A tragic love-story for a lost country, James Phillips’s new play examines the lot of a displaced Greek Cypriot desperately yoked to the past. Despite a cast of undercooked supporting characters, it succeeds as a monodrama for the brilliantly sketched Alexandra, a jewellery maker on the cusp of restarting her life after over two paused and muted decades.
Sally Dexter plays the role with a brittle vivacity, from her first jerky meeting with Oxford classist Jonathan (Scott Handy) to the great cascades of emotion as she describes a lost lover and land. Phillips approaches the plight of Cyprus’s exiled with empathy and dignity, as Alexandra insists that every true Cypriot keeps a suitcase packed for an imminent return to their home.
Phillips’s direction is less assured than his writing, however, and even the script meanders into the banal and over-researched. The character of Sophia, an unconvincing and irritating war photographer, is particularly egregious, further harmed by a critically stagey performance from Daphne Alexander. They’re flaws that obfuscate and occasionally entirely obscure the achievements of ‘Hidden in the Sand’.
By Stewart Pringle