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The Theatreguide.London Review

Arcola Theatre   Winter 2019

The only surprise in Amanda Lomas's adaptation of Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel Hunger is that after watching the play for ten minutes, you could go home and have missed nothing.

The play gives us a young man with no money, unable to find a job, becoming homeless and hungry.

The only character we vaguely get to know is the amiable, easy-going hunger victim. There is no social context to the sequence, simply the seventy-five minute repetition of the pattern that isn't blamed on the world, God or anything else.

If the mood of the audience is gloomy, the mood on stage is lightened by a confident, brisk, well-performed sequence of scenes, which gave the interaction of the young man with other characters a touch of the expressionist play Woyzeck. If only this play, like the Büchner classic, had something to say about the world.

It doesn't, and if that political weakness for many audience members is minor, the lack of a dramatic arc will be a major one.

The plot, the drama, the characters are all one-dimensional and flat. Nothing changes, nothing intrigues, nothing amuses. There is no internal or external conflict to be resolved.

There is just a good-natured man, wandering about the stage, occasionally clutching his stomach in hunger. Give him a good feed and the play is over.

Keith McKenna

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Review -  Hunger - Arcola Theatre 2019

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