Hole at the Royal Court Theatre
Even at an hour, Hole, the debut from Game of Thrones‘ Ellie Kendrick, is stretched thin. For a production that’s in part about taking up space, it’s an uncomfortable criticism to make. You sort of want to give it the benefit of the doubt. Evergreen female rage – it was first written a lifetime ago, in pre-Trump, pre-MeToo, still-sexist 2016 – fuels the revue, snarling and biting. But it feels amateurish, not in a way that’s purposefully part of its charm – at least not wholly – but in a way that makes the piece come across as several drafts short of a finished product.
The play is bursting with holes. Physical holes, metaphorical holes; big fluffy holes, velvet-curtained holes (Cecile Tremolieres’s set is cabaret by way of plush burrow); holes women are forced into, holes they are bursting out of. Black holes. Emotional holes. And, maybe, a hole where some depth should be.
The opening sequence is one of the better portions; each of the cast’s women step up to the mic, attempting to tell their stories only to be chased into a sinking space by a whooshing spotlight and the tick-tocking of their allocated time running out. Then the harpies turn up and the play struggles to find its shape, angrily snaking through a series of sketches that never really have any staying power.
There’s something a bit basic about the way the drama approaches its chosen avenues of expression. Myth and misogyny dominate the central segment, the stories of Pandora and Medusa – both women violated and then punished for it, trapped – told through a coordinated dance-song that is musically fun but lyrically indifferent. Towards the end, the show then takes a scientific turn, with talk of particles (rhymes with hierarchical), blackbodies and radiation vaguely attempting to tap into a celestial scope that doesn’t come off.
There’s nothing to fault with the performers – especially the devilish Rubyyy Jones – and Ebony Bones has put together a cracking score. For better or worse, directors Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen have given the production their signature RashDash flair, though here it’s very much a case of style over substance. There just isn’t enough of anything, the play starting to slip from the mind as soon as you step back out onto Sloane Square.
Photo: The Other Richard
Hole is at the Royal Court Theatre from 28th November 2018 until 12th January 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.