Thursday, 5 April 2018

“Holes” by Louis Sachar
Nottingham Playhouse
Stanley Yeinats is apparently born into a family that has been cursed with bad luck by a gipsy and now he has been accused of a crime that he didn’t commit. Stanley is sent to a labour camp as punishment for the alleged crime and his punishment is to dig a hole a day. The hole has specifics of five foot wide and five foot deep and is designed to “build character”.
Not only do they have to deal with this mind numbing task, they deal with rattlesnakes, lizards and their warden and her cronies. But there’s something that the warden is hiding…….
Having not seen the film, read the book or even seen another version of this play, I went in with a blank canvas waiting for the cast to paint, and a lovely masterpiece took shape before my very eyes.
The play is a wonderful family friendly piece, which unless you're taking your child to panto or a David Walliams play for kids, or a Horrible History show, there's not that much that a family can see together and enjoy on the same comic level.
The comedy in "Holes" is simple and I do not mean that in a derogatory style, because it covers all ages with a nice mix of physical and verbal comedy.
The puppetry - directed and co designed by Matthew Forbes - is quite magical, again, not trying to be too clever.
Kacey Ainsworth – who we remember as Little Mo from Eastenders – plays the Warden, as well as several other roles. I've seen Kacey on stage before but this is a completely different role to anything I've seen her play previously but I loved the variety of the roles and the comedy. It is not until near the end that we also find out the secret the warden is keeping, and then it all falls into place, along with the connection to some of the other characters.
Playing Stanley is Chris Ashby, who we last saw at the Playhouse not that long ago in "Wonderland". There's a lot of energy in this role and, as with the rest of the cast, a lot of physicality, which makes his character and the play exciting to watch.
Playhouse favourite John Elkington plays Mr Sir, as well as several other characters. It's a tribute to John, and Kacey that they can change an item of clothing and make us believe in a completely different character.
The rest of the cast consist of Anmar Duffus (X – Ray), Edward Harrison (Stanley’s Dad), Safiyya Ingar (Magnet), Greg Lockett (Sam), Pepter Lunkuse (Zero), Henry Mettle (Armpit) and Elizabeth Twells (“Kissing” Kate Hardwick).
All of these play very different and rather wonderful characters. Their back stories and how they got their nicknames will delight the audience member, whatever the age.
Henry Mettle makes his professional stage debut in this play.
Loved the back story with Zero, and it's his real name that starts to reveal connections within the play.
There's an equal measure of good guys and baddies, and some that occasionally cross, pleasing even the toughest and youngest critic.
Directed by Adam Penford, he has succeeded in putting on an intelligent family focused piece of theatre, which I feel will hold the attention of even the youngest of audiences. This production would be a real treat for school theatre visits, or just a treat for the kids - and big kids!
Designed by Simon Kenny, the set is magical and with your own imagination, you can visualise the holes that are being dug. The props, video effects and stage dugout easily take us through several settings.
Great lighting and effects (Prema Mehta), a wonderfully fun hoe down - choreography by Emma Annetts - and a fresh music soundtrack from the likes of Rockwell (Somebody's Watching Me) and Cardi B (Finesse) among them.
“Holes” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Sunday 22 April 2018, so plenty of time to look into seeing this beautifully crafted piece of theatre.

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