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Review: Hunger, at Arcola Theatre

13 December, 2019 — By ERIN COBBY

Kwami Odoom in Hunger. Photo: Alex Brenner

HUNGER is a dark and cautionary tale, as relevant today as it was in 1890.

Based on “the first piece of modernist literature” written by Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, it follows the descent of a young man trying to make it as a journalist in an unfamiliar city.

The play throws into sharp relief the ungiving nature of humanity and the scarce amount of services available for those in need.

A stark set (Anna Kezia Williams), nameless characters and imaginative multi-roling help the play to lose its sense of locale, allowing these themes to become universal, traversing time as well as space to underline homelessness as an international and long-standing issue.

The ensemble is particularly effective when portraying the protagonist’s (Kwami Odoom) delirious imaginings, eating each other in slow motion and then speeding up to hop on the tube, effectively creating an atmosphere of unreality.

Another highlight is the protagonist’s dip in the sea: undulating waves created by the shadows of the other cast members projected onto screens provide a rare moment of peace in the otherwise calamitous narrative.

While some of the rhetoric is a little extreme, the performances are admirable, with Odoom deserving of special mention for his range and realism, and Katie Eldred for her haunting vocals.

The play forces the audience to take stock of their own privilege, causing a strong emotional reaction, reminding us that everyone is only a few steps away from the poverty line.

Until December 21
020 7503 1646


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