Ruth Lawrence's new production grapples with a difficult topic in difficult times
The first thing the audience sees is the stage set, which to my surprise was created by Lois Brown. This is only the second time she has designed a set to my knowledge. It is deceptively simple to the eye, a wash of camouflage patterned browns and tans. The whole of the stage, which is a farmhouse interior of furniture, drapes, etc, is a mass of dappled foliage that culminates in treetops. It is an apt visual metaphor for the central action of hiding the hunted, the innocent. It is at times a cozy nest and others a suffocating trap with ingenious visual solutions.
The beauty of the script for me was that it was unassuming. It was never strained or clever. It managed to say a lot in natural sounding terms. The ensemble of actors is relatively small and intense. The real power in their acting came to me through their physicality, the way they inhabited the eroding physical and psychological states of their characters as their challenging circumstances escalated. The actors went from supportive, tender embraces to the surrender of crawling on their bellies but made it all appear inevitable as opposed to melodramatic. HUNGER never succumbs to hyperbole.
Often, the most productive way of delivering medicine is sugar coating. In the case of HUNGER the audience is seduced by a gentle start and when the going gets really rough by a sense of an almost lyrical surrealism. The hardest hitting sequence has an almost dream like quality. So be assured those of you considering buying tickets, that this is not a depressing production. It is thought provoking and it will make you question the motives of many as it probes the fragile divide between chaos and control, profit and philanthropy, benefit and risk.