Impressively, HOLE is powered entirely with green energy - a set of solar panels and a wind turbine. Writer Lynda Chanwai-Earle notes that to the best of her knowledge a completely off grid production inside a theatre is a world first. I love that the production prioritizes performing in a sustainable way as it strengthens its environmental message.
Actors Stevie Hancox-Monk, Sepelini Mua’ua and Elle Wootton bring the show to life. Each of them are dynamic and charismatic in their roles. Hancox-Monk, switching between roles as Dutch Greenpeace activist Bonnie, and an American fast-talking greenie-hating Navy Seal captain is particularly impressive.
However at times I did struggle to understand the dialogue, either because of a thick accent, or a character so big it became distracting. The big, bold characters were so fun that sometimes a scene would finish and I would be left feeling that I missed half of it. Clarity was scarified in the name of bringing liveliness and theatrically to a wordy script. A softening of accents, and slowing down, embracing a little more subtly will give the audience more time to breathe and understand.
HOLE explores the relationship between art and science. Stella describes Antarctica as the heartbeat of the world, pulsing as the ice expands with the seasons. Poetry has a way to pull at the heart strings that raw science doesn’t, and this description moved me, leaving me in awe of the raw beauty of our planet.
Visually HOLE is gorgeous. Set designer Brian King litters the stage with wooden boxes and snow gear. White sheets are used to evoke the icy terrain, then transformed into the entrance to a tent. Industrial fans and blue backlighting capture the freezing winds of Antarctica. The design effectively sets the scene and adds a sumptuousness to the production
My main issue with HOLE stems from confusion over the character motivations. Most of the plot revolves around a love triangle between Stella, Bonnie and Ioane. Stella flirts outrageously with both characters, initiating their romantic relationships. Nothing wrong with flirtation, but I didn’t believe that an accomplished scientist on her first trip to the Antarctic would behave this way. In fact, I was left wondering, is Stella supposed to be a ‘greedy’ bisexual? With an unfortunately timed premiere on bisexual visiablity day, I was left feeling awkward about the characterisation.
I felt similarly about Ioane. He makes a pivot near the end of the show, choosing to support Greenpeace over his fellow Navy Seals. I didn’t understand why he made this choice and felt blindsided, leaving me less invested in his character arc. The conclusion does help to clarify his motivation, but with more emphasis earlier in the show his journey could have been really powerful.
Overall, HOLE is an engaging and beautiful show with a powerful message. If this development season is used to work out the kinks in clarity and character motivation it has the potential to be spectacular.
HOLE is on at 7:30 in Circa until September 26th. Tickets are available at the Circa website