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Holes is an inventive new stage show based on the multi-award-winning novel and blockbuster film of the same name. This brilliant and thrilling production is engaging and intriguing and I highly recommend it. Holes is part of the theatre’s Made in Northampton season, and is at the Royal from Friday 24 January to open its UK tour.

Stanley Yelnats can’t catch a break. Born into a family cursed with bad luck, it comes as no surprise when he finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit. His choice is between a rock and a hard place so he picks a labour camp as his punishment. Its hard labour of digging holes each day in the hot sun. He’s told it is to build ‘character’ but with such hard rules and even his fellow hole diggers picking on him how will Stanley fare? The Warden is especially hard. And what about all those rattlesnakes and yellow-spotted lizards he keeps being warned about?

Stanley is played by James Backway and is excellent in the role. You feel empathy for Stanley and James plays him as simple and honest with integrity. Zero is a quiet inmate who keep himself to himself but likes to dig holes. Everyone underestimates Zero but Leona Allen who plays Zero is brilliant at playing him. She gives him a quiet assurance that there is much more to him than we realise. Rhona Croker plays the warden and is strong and aggressive in the role. Rhona delivers the warden in a quietly frightening way, where you are not quite sure how she will react and that is really scary for the inmates at the camp. To be honest, the whole cast are excellent. Some take on several roles and it demonstrates their range and talent.

I had never seen Holes before. Not read the book nor seen the film so this was my first experience of it and it was encompassing. You wanted to find out more about each character. You wanted to know where the story is going. You are intrigued. Its brilliantly directed by Adam Penford who has been the Artistic Director at Nottingham Playhouse. Adam’s directing is sublime and keeps the story flowing while offering us sub-plots and back stories and places the end of act one in the most perfect place. I loved the sound effects (pig, snake etc) and the puppetry of the snake, tarantula and yellow-spotted lizard. It all works perfectly together to deliver an outstanding play.

Holes at the Royal until 2 February 2020.

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