Director Naomi Liddle introduces Holes, Tom Basden’s black comedy set on a desert island and exploring the fates of four survivors of a plane crash.
We hear you’re a bit of a Tom Basden fan – what is it about his writing that appeals to you?
Well, it’s probably also accurate to say that SLT in general is a Tom Basden fan – many people don’t even realise he’s written plays and yet this is the fourth one we’re presenting! He must think we’re stalking him.
I love his dry British brand of humour – right from the first lines the audience knows they are not in for a typical, high drama ‘movie’ story. It’s all about very ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, and that juxtaposition is a rich vein for comedy. Bickering colleagues aren’t suddenly going to become heroes just because they’re put in a life-threatening situation, and nor are they necessarily going to fall apart. That middle ground is fascinating. Interspersed with the humour are some dark twists and turns – Basden is never afraid to ‘go there’ with taboo subjects and that’s just as rewarding.
What are the themes explored in this play?
At its heart this is a story about four people thrown together, none of whom you’d really want to be stuck on a desert island with! It invites us to consider how we might react in such a situation. Would you try and take charge or fall into despair? Make the best of it or just want to walk into the sea as soon as your iPhone runs out of juice? How important is it to remember who played Ian Beale in Eastenders*? And where the hell are the mini Heinekens?
What have you found most challenging in directing this show?
On the whole, most of the characters are fairly awful people in many ways. However it was essential to remember that they are just flawed, not ‘bad’. Even when behaving terribly, there are good intentions there. We spent a lot of time on making sure that the characters felt real and rounded so that you didn’t necessarily come out on ‘Team Gus’ or ‘Team Ian’ for example, and making sure that even the less chatty character is fully realised. And of course, on a practical level the staging has been pretty challenging!
Ian, Marie and Gus are all colleagues at ‘DBS’, a demographics company in the UK, but this hasn’t prepared them for this latest and most unexpected team building exercise! Without giving too much away, they all deal with their situation in very different ways, not all of them constructive. Sixteen year-old Erin may be quiet, but still waters run deep and she is not going to let their bickering get the best of her. I’ve become very fond of all of them and their flaws, and I hope the audience enjoys this little band of misfits as much as I do.
*Adam Woodyatt (plays Ian Beale)
Holes runs Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 February at the Old Fire Station. Buy tickets here
Rehearsal images by Tom Mitchell