Hunger. Kwami Odoom (The Young Man). Credit - Alex Brenner

Hunger at Arcola Theatre | Review

Hunger. Katie Eldred (Ylayali) & Kwami Odoom (The Young Man). Credit - Alex Brenner.
Hunger. Katie Eldred (Ylayali) & Kwami Odoom (The Young Man). Credit – Alex Brenner.

Hunger is a story about struggle. The Young Man (played by Kwani Odoom) attempts to survive in the city but soon finds himself on the poverty line. What starts as being behind on rent and struggling to find work soon turns into inconsistent living situations and eventual starvation. This dark and heavy story is a retelling of Knut Hamsun’s novel, by Amanda Lomas and is intriguing, thought-provoking and a well-rounded piece of theatre.

The Arcola Theatre in East London presents this adaption of Hamsun’s 130-year-old tale and it shows how relevant this style of story still is today – a few wrong steps or a few missed payments and suddenly, your whole life can change. Despite the subject matter, Lomas’ adaption manages to create some humour through the dynamic and talented cast (Archie Backhouse, Katie Eldred and Jessica Tomlinson) who are able to have fun with their many, varied characters that play a part in The Young Man’s story and eventual fall into poverty.

Odoom’s performance is sensational and he plays The Young Man with a sense of optimism that continues to chip away throughout this 75-minute production. Fay Lomas’ direction and Natasha Harrison’s movement choreography, alongside our performers, perfectly join together to make an enigmatic production. They collectively are able to keep the audience of their toes throughout wondering how could it get worse for The Young Man – or will it ever get better? The Young Man continuously wonders around the streets of the city and begins to learn of the many ways that others can treat the poor. This exceptional production is worth seeing, whilst you still can.

4 Stars

Review by Tomm Ingram

A young man moves to the big city with dreams of becoming a writer. But in this unforgiving metropolis, friends are scarce and jobs are even scarcer. Once hunger rocks the core of his reality, how can his youthful spirit – and his sanity – survive?

Amanda Lomas explodes Knut Hamsun’s tale about a mind on the margins and, more than a century since the original novel captured the brutality of urban isolation, asks how much has changed. Directed by the winner of the Peter Hall Emerging Artist Fellowship Award at Rose Theatre Kingston, Fay Lomas.

Directed by Fay Lomas
Designer: Anna Kezia Williams
Lighting Designer: Rajiv Pattani
Composer: Lex Kosanke
Movement Director: Natasha Harrison
Cast: Archie Backhouse, Katie Eldred, Kwami Odoom and Jessica Tomlinson.

The world première of
A new adaptation by Amanda Lomas
From the novel by Knut Hamsun
On: Monday 25 November at 7pm
At: Arcola Theatre
24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL

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