Primitive Science, Hunger

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

A can of baked beans with the show’s programme wrapped around it pre-empts the individuality of Primitive Science’s Hunger. Rather like the cumbersome ‘programme’, the performance is also heavy, and difficult to read.

There are three segments inspired by Franz Kafka’s short stories, each focusing on a physical and a metaphorical relationship with ‘Hunger’. The first is a slow, drawn out examination of a starving artist: the second, a quick sketch about a man waiting for someone to arrive, and his obsession with time; the third – the clearest of the three – uses a terra-phobic trapeze artist to delineate the hunger for success, and the fear of the fall,

Despite the elaborate stage design, dramatising Kafka does not make for visually stimulating theatre, or at least, not in this production. The characters are typically Kafka-esque: enigmatic, pensive, obsessive, removed from the real world, but to the point that at times it is impossible to identify traits or themes within the nebulous portrayals. The production seems to be relying on the audience’s knowledge of the stories, meaning that those who did not know them were alienated from a bigger picture. The atmosphere is also thinned by two fifteen-minute breaks between the segments, making the performance feel more like a hike back and forth from the bar than a theatrical experience.

There are moments when the production connects or finds wit in carefully conceived or well-timed mime, but on the whole it is a ponderous show that did not stimulate my hunger for more.

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Issue 12-1
p. 24