Review: Fun, energy and intrigue combine in family-friendly Holes on Northampton stage

Emily-Jane Clark reviews Holes at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

The cast of Holes. Picture: Manuel Harlan
The cast of Holes. Picture: Manuel Harlan

When I arrived at Northampton’s Royal Theatre to discover ‘Holes’ would be two hours long plus interval, I was a little worried. I wasn’t sure my children (aged six and eight) would sit still (and stay awake) for that long. Especially my notoriously hyperactive youngest daughter.

But I needn’t have worried because thankfully, this engaging, fun and energetic adaptation of the classic Louis Sachar novel kept them glued to their seats for the entire show.

Holes is the story of 14-year-old Stanley Yelnats (that’s right, it is Stanley spelt backwards), a boy sent to the brutal Camp Green Lake where he is made to dig holes in the hot sun after being wrongfully convicted of a crime.

He digs alongside a motley crew of boys including Armpit, Magnet, Zero and X-Ray under the watchful eye of the heartless warden and her right hand man the odious Mr Sir. They are told they are digging holes to ‘build character’ but Stanley discovers there is a more mysterious reason behind it.

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    The real purpose of the relentless digging is revealed through a series of flashbacks from the past, which are cleverly intertwined with scenes from the camp. The talented cast shifted effortlessly between time zones and characters to reveal a tragic tale from Green Lake’s past.

    The entire cast were outstanding and multi-talented performers. Rhona Croker was hilarious as crazy Madame Zeroni and terrifying as the hard-faced Warden, and James Backway made a convincing and likeable Stanley. There was also some great comedy acting from Joelle Brabban as Magnet and Harold Harold Addo as X-Ray.

    The set was brilliant and hats off to the sounds team because the soundtrack was really added to the fun, lively atmosphere.

    Holes is one of those shows that can be enjoyed equally by both adults and children and I would recommend it for a great family night out. If you are taking a curious six-year-old be prepared for a lot of questions as the story is probably a little complicated for younger children. However, the larger-than-life the characters and laugh-out-loud comedy should keep them entertained nonetheless.

    * Holes runs until Saturday February 1. Visit to book.