What's it about?
The revival of a dead art: hunger art. The Hunger Artist would starve himself for an astonishing forty days attracting masses of people. But as crowds faded, he continued starving himself beyond the typical limit until the world around him transformed and he remained: hungering.
What I experienced?
I have three words to present based on my experience of this play: wacky, wild and worrifying (where the 'w' is really the letter h). I wanted to keep it all w's, because why not?
The Hunger Artist was a play which opened my mind to the uncommon but welcome. For instance, when I asked where the bathroom was they said down the hall. On the door: a boy and a girl. Unisex, single bathroom? Not at all, it was multi-stall! I was horrified to go in not because I had any fears of creepers and peepers but because it was such a trusting concept. Men and woman in one bathroom? Peeing together in total bliss. Wow. Impressive. I was in awe that everyone except me was comfortable. I think a part of me felt scared because it took me back to when I was a kid and mom would say this is the ladies bathroom for ladies and boys bathroom for boys. It's something just programmed into us, ya know? But I did my business, and no one said so much as a peep.
The play itself was just as adventurous as my trip to el baño. It started off bright and carnival-like as the story teller on stage hopped about unpacking stuff from a life-sized suitcase: most notably a puppet stage. He told us a bit about the hunger artist how he attracted big crowds by starving himself. He told the serious story using puppets which made me question what I felt. Was I sorry for the hunger artist or excited about the puppets representing his story?
Eventually he told the story to a point where I had to stare at my shoes. That's when the shift came and character's who weren't on the playbill appeared, from the audience AT RANDOM. That was WILD. But a little too wild for my taste and as the story teller picked people to become characters, I avoided eye contact as much as I could. I was grateful I picked a corner seat, it helped me coward in the corner like a bat. The people appeared on stage and the microphone gave them directions to use props or perform actions. They were hesitant but eventually bloomed into wonderful characters as the main character became the dingy creepy looking hunger artist. They helped him get caged up and, somehow, won wine in the process. Now had I known I could have won wine, I would have ran on stage.
After giggles with the nervous audience members, they returned to their seats and the lights dimmed and everything started to feel less fun. The carnival lights didn't look so inviting anymore and there was this weird sort of trick they did with the lighting where it felt as if I was getting pulled towards the little light that was left. The hunger artist starved himself onstage for several sets of 40 days. Crowds came and faded and the scene was so repetitive it made me uncomfortable -- he was in a cage starving himself for fame.
The day came when the imaginary crowds faded and he was pulled from his one man act to become part of a circus. The circus guy, played by the same actor as the story teller and hunger artist (yes he was all three), was really awful looking. I really wanted him offstage and back into whatever Stephen King nightmare he slipped out of. The hunger artist successfully starved himself to death, declaring to the circus leader: "I starved myself because I never found anything I liked", as he turned to bones. The circus leader casually swept his remains away and replaced his empty spot with a panther. The curtains closed and I sat just horrified at how casually everyone took the death. Ultimately walking out with a medley of questions... What? Whoa? Why?
Want to see it?
Sorry, this show is not currently showing :(
What did you experience?
Let PXP know in the comments below...