‘Hole’ review

Theatre, Experimental
3 out of 5 stars
Hole, Ellie Kendrick, 2018
© Richard Davenport

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Ellie Kendrick’s fiery feminist cabaret feels slightly overshadowed by its directors, RashDash

This playwrighting debut from actor Ellie Kendrick – you might know her from ‘Game of Thrones’, or playing Anne Frank for the BBC – is both stridently out there and also extremely recognisable as The Sort Of Thing That Gets Staged in the Royal Court’s experimental Upstairs venue.

Generically speaking, we’re not exactly talking about a play: maybe ‘feminist cabaret’ would be a more accurate description. Certainly, it’s a pretty free-form type of night, which unfolds in a fizzbang of skits, songs and elaborate visual set-pieces rather than anything resembling a plot. And it’s powered by a terrific and gloriously frazzled group of female performers who tag-team their way through the scenarios presented with hurtling aplomb.

It’s also impossible to talk about ‘Hole’ without discussing its directors, Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen of the avant-garde feminist theatre company RashDash. Their fiery, fun and provocatively visual hallmarks are all over ‘Hole’, from the darkly funny opening scene, in which each of the performers tries to talk about an assault but is thwarted by malignant technical difficulties, to a sequence in which the cast emerge from a fluffy pink hole in the floor dressed in anachronistic nightdresses and twitch, creepily, to something that sounds not unlike the ‘Doctor Who’ theme.

Needless to say, this is all great, but I spent the duration of ‘Hole’ increasingly nagged by the feeling that the direction was fantastic and the text was not. Kendrick’s words undoubtedly have their moments – a vivid sequence sympathising with the Medusa sticks in the mind. But they don’t really have much discernible cumulative power or through-thread, and ‘Hole’ feels maddeningly diffuse. 

Not to begrudge Kendrick – who I'm sure contributed more than just words – but it feels vaguely unjust to me that RashDash have now directed somebody else’s show at the Royal Court, but haven’t been invited to stage their own. ‘Hole’ is not a patch on its directors’ ‘Two Man Show’. But at best it is a whole lot of fun in its own right.

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