Holes by Tom Basden

Never has a plane crash induced so much hilarity. In Tom Basden’s (The Party, Fresh Meat) new work, three businesspeople and a sixteen year old girl find themselves stranded on a remote island after their plane goes down. After convincing themselves that the whole world has gone to pot and that they are the only people left alive, the characters set about coming to terms with their situation and rebuilding civilisation.

Except they don’t, really. They squabble, drink, play Sudoku and generally act like arses. They are also very, very funny. The script is witty, silly and black as pitch – it’s hard not to gape and laugh simultaneously as the adults quibble over mini-Sprite while the girl, Erin, finishes off the burial of her parents. Plot-wise, Holes is a stronger offering than Basden’s last fringe offering, The Party, which felt more like an extended sketch than a rounded narrative arc. Holes does not suffer from the same problem - the story carries the comedy well yet is especially powerful when the laughter dies.

The performances themselves were committed and engaging with no weak link. Of particular note was the brash, enthusiastic Ian (Daniel Rigby) whose performance was sympathetic, uproarious and horrific in equal measures. Yes, I do mean horrific. Gut-wrenchingly horrific.

The show is good, great even. I enjoyed every second of it. Not so great is the gimmick that is plastered over the publicity material. The fabled ‘undisclosed location’ adds absolutely nothing to the show apart from an extra two hours running time. Holes could have been performed just as well in town and would not need to charge £20 a ticket to supplement transport costs. It strikes me as a cynical marketing ploy to prevent potential audiences from being put-off by the fact that the venue is quite far away: there is nothing special about the location that warrants such cryptic publicity. I would not have hesitated from urging anyone to make the journey themselves because the payoff is worth every ounce of effort but the fact that there is nothing behind the exciting mystery that PR has created made me sad and angry.

Do see this show but prepare for an awful lot of unnecessary waiting and walking. Though excellent, it is not sufficiently mind-blowing to warrant ignoring the potential three-and-a-half hours it lasts, most of which does not involve any show. Go only if you have the time to sacrifice your afternoon.

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The Blurb

Three colleagues and a teenage girl are the sole survivors of a plane crash on a remote island. With Daniel Rigby, Katy Wix, Mathew Baynton, and Bebe Cave. Directed by Phillip Breen. Secret location. Transport provided.

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