holes top


Coventry Belgrade


Holes is a complex story covering many generations of several interlocking families that must have been a nightmare to stage.

However, it is a good, rounded story well told with some inventive ideas to support it. I loved the beginning – with music and puppetry to simulate the hot Texas desert, with snakes, the dreaded yellow-spotted lizards, tarantulas and a battered umbrella signifying tumbleweed. The burgeoning friendship of Stanley and Zero defines the action.

Our literally innocent hero, Stanley Yelnats (James Backway), who shares the name Stanley with all of his forefathers, has a cursory trial for stealing a pair of expensive sneakers from an auction for the homeless and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a sort of Borstal cum Lord of the Flies outfit that is run entirely by fear.

Punishment is to dig holes in the burning Texas sun. Stanley’s new comrades are a motley collection – X-ray the leader and chief bully (Harold Addo), Zero the bullied (Leona Allen), Magnet (Joelle Brabban) and Armpit (Henry Mettle) plus Tough Kid (Jeremy Cobb).

The sadistic and voyeuristic Warden (Rhona Crocker) is clearly in it for personal reasons which become clear as the action continues. Her second in command, simply called Mr Sir (John Elkington), terrorises the boys and is terrorised by the warden in his turn.

Stanley assumes he is cursed because of the actions of his Great-Grandfather Stanley in stealing a pig from Madame Zeroni (Rhona Crocker) and her sweet lullaby forms a links between the generations as the ‘curse’ is lifted.

Camp Green Lake, desperate for rain, has also been ‘cursed’ several generations before by the actions of Trout Walker (Matthew Romain) in killing Sam, the black onion seller in love with the white school teacher, Kate Barlow (Elizabeth Twells) who then goes to the bad, and steals the next Stanley’s fortune. These two inter-generational stories intertwine as Stanley builds a friendship with Zero.

Holes is a fable written for children by Louis Sachar and there were many children in the audience, always good to see. I loved how the cameos of the past generations explained the action. I liked the use of music and in particular the lively dance scene. However, the Texas drawl sometimes made sentences difficult to follow and it was often a struggle to hear the lines which spoilt a really good piece. Directed by Adam Penford, the Holes are appearing until 22-02-20.

Jane Howard


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