Malvern Theatres – until 7 March 2020
Reviewed by Vanessa Gibson
Stanley Yelnats (James Backway) – that’s Stanley spelt backwards, can’t catch a break. His family is cursed and he unfortunately is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a pair of expensive trainers literally falls into his hands. Accused of stealing the trainers he is offered the choice between prison and a labour camp. Imagining a fun filled summer camp he is in fact dispatched to a labour camp in a desert infested with poisonous critters. Here, he is told, his task is to dig a new hole, every day, in the sweltering heat. Stanley and his fellow prisoners are told this is to build their character- but is this true? Of does the very forceful and at times funny Warden (Rhona Croker) have an ulterior motive and if so what is it? And so the scene is set for a several stories which are beautifully interwoven to bring the past very much into the current day and help resolve Stanley’s seemingly hopeless situation.
This story speeds along with a mix of song, dance, well timed humour and puppetry. We particularly enjoyed the fabulous shower scene which saw Stanley take a very self-conscious shower to the soundtrack of Rockwell’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’– brilliantly done this scene caused some gentle laughter within the very mixed audience. The speed and variety on stage really kept our interest, with rapid scene changes, flitting between the interwoven stories we weren’t quite sure what was coming next.
All cast members held up some very impressive and convincing American accents throughout the performance. In addition several cast members played multiple roles and were able to give each its own personality. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast was clear to see. Of note was the portrayal of Stanley’s friendship with Zero (Leona Allen) this relationship was central to the play and built wonderfully from initial mutual suspicion to a friendship which gave an unexpected conclusion to the play.
The production is a joint production with The Children’s Theatre Partnership and it was lovely to see so many young people at the performance enjoying such a varied, skilled and enthusiastic performance.
We would recommend Holes- but just look out for the snakes and yellow spotted lizards.