Nathan Hardie: How did you find it?
Zoe Callow: It came at a really good time for me! I’d been feeling a little rushed, running from event to event all afternoon, and stressed about everything I had to do. And then I went in and it was half an hour of play. I feel so good now, it reminded me how important it is to play and have unstructured fun.
N: Which is probably why I struggled to get it initially, my life has been built into such a structured routine just to cope with everything that I was already planning my review in advance.
Z: In the post-show Q&A the artists said they wanted to explore being an adult trying to regain the playfulness of childhood, and one of the things the show seemed to be saying was that it is not an easy task.
N: Accessing that inner child as a cynical critic I found incredibly tough. By the end, I finally connected with what was happening just as Emily left the LAB in a strop. I must’ve felt like my parents did when I left home.
Z: And it was so interesting for me as a critic because it was asking me not to be a critic, at least not in the traditional sense. It also put us in a strange position as an audience more generally. I was being encouraged to see the world through a child’s eyes, but I don’t think they accounted for how sitting in a relatively traditional theatre setting would impact my ability to do that.
N: Exactly, and I was trying to impose a narrative onto their games, compartmentalise it like an adult does whilst missing that idea. I'd consider ways how they can inform people on what they’re about to do, such as signs for a splash zone in the front row, but it would completely defeat the point.
Z: It was interesting to watch this after the day’s funding-themed discussion, where we talked about how competition for funds puts pressure on art to have a ‘purpose’ and tangible outcomes. Hide and Seek felt really radical to me because it was resisting this capitalist logic of productivity, by celebrating the value of experiential play without an end goal.
N: My adult brain thinks about ways of marketing it, which stems from internalised capitalism in theatre, a business background and financial childhood anxieties. However, listening to my inner child, why can’t theatre just be fun? There clearly is an audience for this work and can even provide therapeutic nature in its playfulness, so why shouldn’t it be funded more?
Z: Definitely! Coming back to whether we should be thinking as an adult or a child during the performance, is it fair to summarise that for me it felt like a relief from adulthood, and for you it was stressful because you felt like you were meant to access an experience of childhood, which you found difficult? We had completely opposite experiences?
N: I don’t think I could put it better myself.