Sally Dexter’s stage career has spanned everything from Hamlet’s Gertrude to talent show judge Simone in Viva Forever!, but in Hidden In The Sand she takes on another equally memorable character, that of Alexandra in James Phillips’ new play about a Greek Cypriot hiding the truth about her past.
The tender four-hander, which sees Dexter joined by Scott Handy and Daphne Alexander, is set in London and follows Alex as she enters into a romantic relationship with Jonathan (Handy). When her niece Sophia returns from a trip to war-torn Kosovo, however, she discovers that her aunt hasn’t been entirely truthful to her new found love, as lies about her past relationships begin to bubble to the surface.
Dexter’s performance is an energetic one, both in terms of her physical movements and the animation in her face, her exaggerated gestures and scrunched up features serving to portray her instability and the changing emotions that she experiences as she tries to process her inner turmoil.
While Phillips’ direction allows the actors to linger during the script’s warmest moments, Dexter’s mesmerising energy keeps the production moving, often leaving the other characters behind in her wake.
Handy’s meek and besotted Jonathan is no match for her feisty Alex, but nevertheless serves to prove the age-old adage that opposites attract, while Alexander exudes confidence as independent young traveller Sophia but doesn’t quite convince as a witness of the horrific incident that temporarily made her famous as a war photographer.
Despite her small part in the production, Yolanda Vazquez is effective in the role of Alex’s sister Elena, bringing an emotional depth to her character that suggests a strong and authentic sibling bond, regardless of their differences and past altercations.
Richard G Mitchell’s melancholic music and Timothy Bird’s arresting projections provide striking accompaniments to Phillips’ emotive tale, which throws into question the characters’ sense of home and national identity among London’s Greek Cypriot immigrant community following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
It is a play well-suited to the Trafalgar Studio 2’s intimate auditorium and Dexter singlehandedly fills the space with her passionate performance as the quirky and complex central character.