Theatre review: Holes at the Arcola Tent

Holes at Arcola Tent

Holes at Arcola Tent - Credit: Archant

A wickedly funny portrayal of the human response to disaster, ‘Holes’ evokes guilt-inducing laughs from the audience.

Tom Basden’s in-the-round comedy plays out on what appears to be an adult-sized sandpit, strewn with suitcases from the wreckage of a plane crash. Four survivors attempt to process the scenario with painfully humorous observations such as “typical, that always happens to me, these transport cock-ups!”

Mathew Baynton’s delivers a brilliantly frank performance as Gus, whose shrewd remarks about fellow colleagues Ian (Daniel Rigby) and Marie (Elizabeth Berrington) highlight the absurdity of the situation and their reactions. As he turns to duty-free alcohol, the decline in his behaviour is an eye opening, albeit funny presentation of gut-wrenching desperation and his character’s inability to cope with it.

The character of Ian is an outrageously on point representation of the modern man and his belief in technology and power. While attempting to implement structure to their lives he in turn gives some of the wittiest lines, and Rigby’s poker-faced performance is applaud-worthy.

Having opened in the aftermath of the flight MH17 crash, grisly jokes about the death of passengers and the state of the pilot’s body could be considered to toe the line of appropriateness. That being said, the inconceivable timing of the play’s London debut doesn’t take away from the ludicrously entertaining dialogue between characters directly after the crash.


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Still, the less than smooth transition in the second half towards a more sobering descent into madness is difficult to follow and at times, uncomfortable to watch. While there are still plenty of funny quips from Rigby there isn’t enough entertainment on stage to engross the audience and distract from the uncomfortably warm setting of the Arcola Tent.

Though Basden’s razor-sharp wit is undeniable, the play that started out so devilishly moreish waned towards a somewhat unsatisfying finish that demanded more of the fast-paced humour of the first act.

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Three out of five stars

Until August 9 at Arcola Tent, Ashwin Street. Tickets from £17.50, arcolatheatre.com

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