Assembly George Square

Edinburgh 2013: Holes - A new play from Tom Basden, one of the UK's most talented young comedy writers

4.00

 

There's an invigorating flair and ambition to Holes, and not just because it begins with a walk along a blustery beach. Audiences are bused out of town to a "secret seaside location", where, following that bracing stroll, they end up seated around a super-sized sandpit, lit by a huge, throbbing orange sun like something out of Tate's Turbine Hall.

Tom Basden's play begins in the immediate aftermath of a plane crash on a faraway tropical island. There are only four survivors - three of them colleagues from DBS (Davidson Business Solutions) on their way to a conference and one unfortunate teenage girl. It's the classic Lost/ Lord of the Flies scenario but the comedy, and later drama, comes from the collision of specifically 21st-century office life with atavistic island survival. Modern man, with his iPads and and HR speak, is not only useless it turns out, he has a chasm in his soul.

That Basden is one of the UK's most talented young comedy writers (his credits include Fresh Meat, Plebs and the 2009 Fringe smash, Party) is clear. His script speeds along, crammed with delicious details about aeroplane chicken chasseur, Duty Free, corporate bonding and Coldplay. If ultimately it takes on a little too much - losing its way in meditations on the nature of Englishness and the essence of personality  - there are also lines so lovely you find yourself smiling at them hours later.

The Invisible Dot has gathered perhaps the finest quartet of comic actors on the Fringe, who make the journey out of town more than worthwhile. Daniel Rigby, Bafta-winning star of Eric and Ernie and One Man, Two Guvnors steals the show as Brent-esque self-nominated leader, Ian. While Katy Wix is hilarious as HR manager Marie, rifling through the suitcases of the dead for designer goods and staggering around the sand in her Louboutin booty. They are ably supported by man-on-the-edge Mathew Baynton (James Corden's partner in the upcoming sitcom The Wrong Mans) and fragile Bebe Cave (last seen playing young Elizabeth to Helen Mirren's older Queen in The Audience).

Director Phillip Breen cooks up a fervid atmosphere and a whole island off-stage with some neat flourishes, including a makeshift ocean. It needs a little fine tuning, but Holes has all the makings of a future tragicomic hit. 

17, 18, 24, 25 August (0131 623 3030)

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