Holes by Louis Sachar

Originally taking the form of a classic children’s novel, it is only natural that this rendition of Holes by Louis Sachar is performed entirely by a young cast. With not a single adult on stage, the Cheam Drama Company managed to bring the childlike element of the book to life in their hour-long performance. This light-hearted play works well for families, but unfortunately it struggled to bring the true fantastical nature the book holds into the theatre.

Only with children performing was it possible to capture the fantastical nature the story needs.

Holes by Louis Sachar follows the adventures of Stanley Yelnats, who, with a family cursed by bad luck, is falsely accused of a crime, and packed off to Camp Green Lake. Despite the friendly name, Camp Green Lake is actually a correctional facility in the middle of the scorching desert, where the boys are to do only one thing – dig. It’s up to Stanley to discover the truth behind the Warden’s desire to dig up this never ending dessert and crack the reason behind his family’s long curse.

It is the complexity of the play’s narrative that makes it an odd choice to bring into the theatre. With multiple flashbacks, a lot of exposition and constant location changes, the Cheam Drama Company weren’t quite able to capture the charm of the book with their rendition. Some of the scene transitions felt oddly clunky, detracting from the narrative as it often continued on in the foreground. The plot also necessitated rattle snakes and lizards, which were strangely chosen to be portrayed by actors distractingly moving large models around the stage.

That said, for such a difficult piece, the cast did well in embracing it. Highly talented, they bounced straight into the characters and succeeded in bringing the stage to life with a childlike spring. They made the fights and jokes of the play seem very natural. Some of them, though, did seem a little nervous to be here at the Fringe.

It was refreshing, if a little surprising, to see such a young cast performing this play, though now it seems like the obvious choice. Only with children performing was it possible to capture the fantastical nature the story needs. The play itself, however, wasn’t as captivating as I had anticipated, the atmosphere often being interrupted and at times almost falling into school theatre quality.

Reviews by Megan Atkins

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The Blurb

Louis Sachar’s award-winning story. Stanley Yelnats, a young boy plagued by his family’s 100-year-old curse, is falsely accused of a crime and sent to Camp Green Lake – a correctional centre in the middle of the scorching desert. Whilst here Stanley must dig a hole five feet deep and five feet wide every day. The warden claims that this is to build character, but Stanley must dig up the truth. A captivating and thrilling adventure story is performed by a young and talented cast.