Breaker

Underbelly

Four stars

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Hidden

Underbelly

Three stars

 

Missing

Underbelly

Three stars

What prompts five children living in an isolated island community to throw themselves off a cliff to their untimely deaths? Does it come from troubled young minds, or are there darker, more mythic forces at play? These are the questions young journalist Danny wants answered when he goes exploring the island's dilapidated schoolroom after dark in Breaker, Graeme Maley's Scots-accented translation of Icelandic writer Salka Gudmundsottir's brooding play.

Danny is chasing his own past, just as local teacher, Sunna is coming to terms with her loss. As their worlds collide, Danny and Sunna skirt around issues that are about more than just themselves before eventually finding some kind of reconciliation.

As with David Greig's play, The Events, Gudmundsottir's play is about a community trying to find closure. Maley's own production of his translation is even more emotionally raw and the consequences of the tragedies even more personal by focusing on just two people.

Iain Robertson strikes just the right balance of gallusness and vulnerability as Danny, and if Isabelle Joss' Sunna threatens to explode into anger too soon, it's merely a sign of the play's emotional floodgates opening in a haunting meditation on how ancient stories can bring some kind of redemption in the modern world.

Until August 26

Six people navigate around each other until some of them actually meet in Hidden, a part sitcom, part romcom written and performed by Laura Lindsay and Peter Carruthers.

It opens with Colin stepping out from the audience and unable to stop himself from jumping in feet first. Then there's James, fantasising about the woman sitting opposite him on the morning train while his wife Nina agonises over a pregnancy test. Claire, Gareth and Cara are similarly keeping their secrets to themselves. The one thing that remains unspoken with all of them is their craving for something resembling love.

First seen at the Lowry in Manchester, Lindsay and Carruthers's play takes a set of well-observed archetypes and gives them a narrative that resembles tan ensemble-based Brit-flick of the 1990s. There is pathos among the laughs in a gentle look at what goes on in the hearts and minds of the people sitting right next to us.

Until August 25

Andrew O'Hagan's journalistic memoir, The Missing, may not have inspired this devised piece by the Young Engineer Theatre Collective, about how easy it is for people to disappear, but the themes and indeed approach are similar in their show, Missing.

Taking as its starting point the disappearance of a child from Coatbridge in the 1950s, plus more recent imagery from the Madeleine McCann case, the company concoct a collage of interviews, recordings and physical tics to explore their subject by way of a set of battleship-grey painted cubes and a quartet of boxes marking out the seasons.

While the company's line of inquiry comes to no conclusions other than what assorted family survivors and policemen can dispassionately reveal, Engineer show promise, if only for attempting to make their way through such a minefield of subject.

However this piece develops, the company would benefit from purchasing a copy of O'Hagan's book.

Until August 25