Royal Court Theatre, London – until 12 January 2019
You’d be forgiven for thinking London’s theatre scene had been taken over by Game of Thrones actors in the past month or so. First Maisie Williams made her stage debut at Hampstead Theatre in I and You, then True West starring Kit Harington opened at the Vaudeville Theatre and now we have Hole, not starring but written by Ellie Kendrick.
Hole is a mixture of speech, song, movement and music exploring female anger through a series of stories, themes and metaphors.
The costumes regularly change and their designs include frills, faux fur, mirrors, sequins, huge wigs, headdresses, suits, shorts and sheer skirts. There is something familiar and unfamiliar about the costumes; sometimes jolly, sometimes frivolously outlandish and celebratory but also strange and intimidating.
What serves for narrative uses a variety of time-markers from black holes to ancient Greek mythology and modern day trials to demonstrate the depth of female anger. Vignettes about body image, about being silenced and being too pretty, are among the sources given for the anger. Some are more powerful and effective than others, for example, seeing Medusa’s story through her own eyes.
The ensemble looks like they are having fun, the music and dance should be entertaining but somehow feels a little menacing as if saying ‘how dare you?’ As a result, despite the 65-minute running time and the mixture of performance styles, it feels long, primarily because it’s not so much one note as one emotion.
I really wanted to like Hole because it is still far too rare to get the chance to see a play written by a woman and directed and performed by women but this woman wasn’t impressed.
I’ve seen feminist theatre that has been more affecting*, plays that have not only exposed a myriad reasons to be angry but have also felt like a celebration and empowering.
Hole is at the Royal Court until January 12 and I’m giving it two and a half stars.
* A great example is Queens of Sheba which I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe and is now getting a second London run at the Vault Festival next year.
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