BWW Review: HOLE, Royal Court
Ellie Kendrick's writing debut is a one-hour attack on the senses. Visceral and to the point, the Royal Court Upstairs stage is alive with the anarchic cry for unity and retribution. The play is co-directed by RashDash's Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen, and alongside a company of six they take us on a journey of physics, mythology and misogyny.
Individually, the women step onto the stage and try to tell the audience something. One of them slides down a poll and then repeats the word "sorry". Another is attempting to speak, but her spotlight keeps shrinking. There's someone who tells us a rape joke, and it quickly emerges that it's about the scorned Medusa. None of them ever get very far before being buzzed off and removed from sight.
After that we are shown the door and told that we can exit if they wish. Until that point not much has happened to provoke that kind of reaction, so it seems a tad over the top. What then follows is a piece of absolute rage, which despite having the occasional interesting moment feels lacking in substance.
Kendrick's intention isn't the most clear. The piece is definitely loud, but the moment you really interrogate its content, the screaming becomes background noise and we need something more - a real provocation of some kind. Emily Legg's sound mixed with Katharine Williams' lighting is rather brilliant, but feels like a cover-up for a shortfall of material.
However, the performances of the ensemble are a true delight, and each of them provides a formidable presence on the stage. These Furies exude power as they shout, sing and perform physical sequences, which allow them to show their strength and great skill. Goalen and Greenland have drawn out exciting moments from all of them. Their urgency is tangible and we can really feel it.
Despite being a spectacle, the drama is pretty simple and not as exhilarating as you would expect from such an impressive performance collective.
Photo credit: The Other Richard