REVIEW: Hole, Royal Court Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Mark Ludmon reviews Ellie Kendrick’s debut play Hole at the Royal Court directed by the team behind RashDash theatre company

Hole review Royal Court Theatre

Ebony Bones in Hole at the Royal Court. Photo: The Other Richard

Hole
Royal Court, London
Four stars
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From ancient Greek myths to the science of sub-atomic particles, Ellie Kendrick pulls in a world of different ideas for her explosive debut play, Hole. Just as the laws of physics are thought to break down inside a black hole, the show disrupts the space at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs and makes it clear there are “no rules to explain what happens next”.

With a diverse cast of six women, Hole is a visually exciting exploration of rage against the male-led power structures of society over 200,000 years of civilisation. It is a system that endorses male violence against women and silences female voices that try to speak out about it. This buried anger literally erupts out of the stage through a soft pink furry hole, with the women transformed into bold, fabulous creatures ready for a fight. But, through her poetic language of protest, Kendrick also seems to ponder where this rage goes and whether it can be sustained.

Hole review Royal Court Theatre

Cassie Layton, Alison Halstead and Eva Magyar in Holde. Photo: The Other Richard

Like the best gig theatre, the production employs not just words but music, song, movement, sound and lighting. There may not be a traditional plot but it never loses momentum across its 65 minutes and, at its best, it is spine-tingling. Its success owes much to the direction by Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland of RashDash theatre company, specialists in combining words with music and dance for shows that provoke and question.

They are supported by phenomenal lighting design by Katharine Williams and sound design from Emily Legg who create a stunning visual and aural experience across Cécile Trémolières’s set. The ensemble of actors – Ronke Adekoluejo, Alison Halstead, Rubyyy Jones, Cassie Layton and Eva Magyar – fills the stage like a force of nature, throwing themselves viscerally into their performances, joined by the powerful voice of composer Ebony Bones.

Hole RashDash Theatre Company

Ronke Adekoluejo in Hole at the Royal Court. Photo: The Other Richard

This is an impressive debut from Kendrick, an actor whose CV includes Martin Crimp’s convention-challenging play In the Republic of Happiness, also at the Royal Court. Hole defies conventional forms and easy definitions, a bold, provocative rebel yell that is acutely relevant in the age of #MeToo and debates over male power.

Running to 12 January 2019

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