Brooklyn Based theatre company Sinking Ship Productions present an adaptation of a short story by Franz Kafka. It is a one-man performance that takes a fantastical look at the life of a travelling circus performer who starves himself as a form of entertainment.
Our performer (Jonathan Levin) enters the stage looking like a bearded and portly Dirk Bogarde in the movie Death In Venice. He sets the scene for the show and begins to deliver the story via a miniature Pollock’s Toy Theatre. Small intricate paper cut out puppets are presented in front of a tiny stage that appears from inside a suitcase. The Aviary room at the Zoo Venue is intimate, but a production of this scale is difficult to see even within this small black box room. The performer takes the upper hand and decides to involve the audience in order to deliver the story. Audience participation almost always brings out laughs, but it can also change the tone and pace of the production. Here A Hunger Artist is at its weakest. This middle section of the production is drawn out and slows down the flow of the show. Audience members are dragged up onto the stage to replace the paper cut-out theatre and are instructed to continue the story. Eventually the production picks up again, when the participation section concludes and the audience finally gets to witness the plight of the hunger artist.
A Hunger Artist saves the best till last. During the conclusion the performer makes use of puppetry and shadow play to present evocative and exciting visual theatre. Unfortunately this comes too late in the show and greater use of this imaginative style of storytelling would have made the 70 minute show more magical and enjoyable.