‘Gaping Hole’ review

Theatre, Experimental
3 out of 5 stars
Gaping Hole, Ovalhouse, Rachel Mars, Greg Wohead, 2019
Photograph: Alex Brenner

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Rachel Mars and Greg Wohead lead an enjoyable odyssey through famous cinematic plot holes – and plot holes in their own lives

So, in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, how did Andy stick the poster back over the hole after he’d escaped through it? In ‘The Little Mermaid’, why didn’t Ariel just write the prince a note? And why the heck didn’t Rose budge up a bit and make space for Jack on that floating door in ‘Titanic’?

In ‘Gaping Hole’, Rachel Mars and Greg Wohead meander through various howling cinematic plot holes, as they move about a theatre space riddled with literal holes (more of which later). They have a watchable, easy rapport, and it’s a gurgling pleasure to listen to them to cook up increasingly absurd backstories to explain away these inconsistencies. Andy trained a mouse named Milo to stick that poster up, Mars tells us. Jack was tempted away from Rose by a sexy underwater seaman called Rizlethorpe – a fine excuse for some wild octopus and sea cucumber erotica, courtesy of Wohead.

It is a bit like one of those conversations you get stuck circling in at four in the morning when people are properly stoned – only these two are obviously considerably more entertaining than that. And as the show goes on, they begin to examine the plot holes in their own lives, suggesting how they might explain away each other’s gaps and hypocrisies. Could a body-swap backstory make sense of the progressive who once voted for George W Bush? What about time travel as a solution for staying in a straight relationship when you’re not straight?

Mars and Wohead’s tone remains ambling and amusing, but the latter half does poke about in the dustier reaches of the psyche, to look at how the urge to narrativise your life might require editing out or rewriting stuff that doesn’t fit, telling little lies to make your sense of self make more sense. The balance could perhaps tilt further towards this material – funny as the early sections are, I wished they’d tunnel in further.

This is the third part of Mars and Wohead’s ‘non-linear trilogy about radical narrative’ – only they haven’t made the second yet, which is perfectly apt. ‘Gaping Hole’ is also part of Ovalhouse’s Demolition Party season, which allows performers to literally tear the building down; the theatre is soon to shift to new premises in Brixton. Mars and Wohead have had the space painted lime green, and have knocked a great big hole in the back wall (they use this to have fun – although not as much as you suspect they could – with a green screen and video feeds).

They’ve also destroyed much of the floor: the show starts with Mars and Wohead gloriously popping up and down through different massive rubbly holes like slow-motion whack-a-moles, to the stomping alarm call of Anna Meredith’s track ‘Nautilus’. What a joyful approach to demolishing a building this is, allowing artists to turn destruction into something creative, generative. 

By: Holly Williams

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