What is hunger? In today’s society, hunger appears to mean more than a simple need for food; it can refer to desire, or a need for comfort. The idea put forward by MFK Fisher that our three basic needs – food, love and security – are inextricably linked is an idea that is explored in Seven Hungers. In this powerfully intense piece of physical theatre, Company of Wolves explores the dangers that arise when the lines between these needs become distorted.
There is a growing intensity throughout, with the production going from strength-to-strength as it explores the dangerous side of hunger and desire. The light-hearted beginning where the actors list some of the audience’s favourite foods, much to their amusement, is a stark contrast to the show’s final moments, where we see the actors turn on each other, presenting the cannibalistic side of hunger. Tension is intensified through the use of light and sound, with the room transitioning from brightly lit to complete darkness as the performance progresses. The creative use of a recording loop live onstage also allows the actors to add layers to onstage visuals, symbolizing the complexity behind the concept of hunger.
Admittedly, certain moments are more thought provoking than others, as some sections feel too long and unimportant. In a standout piece, the actors explore how quickly we can return to our primal human nature. Sounds made on the loop go from being simple echoes of eating to gross, satanic snarls, as the other actors onstage begin to devour each other. The idea of hunger being a carnal and primitive desire is one that certainly comes across; however, as with most of the elements within the performance, although at first it is a powerful image, after a while it simply becomes actors pretending to eat each other.
Seven Hungers certainly leaves the audience reeling, wondering what they have just witnessed. Whether they fully understand the message the company is trying to convey, however, is a whole other matter.
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