Cheering, laughing crowds once flocked to see the hunger
artist, but now he sits alone in his cage forgotten by everyone but his former manager.
In years gone by audiences had gorged themselves on the sight of a man refusing food for 40 days and 40 nights. Comic in the darkest ways, this new adaptation Kafka’s short story heads to the Edinburgh
A Hunger Artist is a powerful piece of physical theatre mixed with elements of puppetry. It starts with seemingly whimsical nostalgia for a lost art form but rapidly transforms into a troubling trip into the nature of memory, art and spectatorship. It raises equally uncomfortable questions about the fate of live theatre. There is also a disquieting sense that the forces, frailties and human fascinations Kafka was highlighting in 1922 were linked to the rise of fascism
then and of far right populism today.
Jonathan Levin, the Lecoq-trained performer who plays all the roles, says: “There’s something poignant in the memory of a lost art form and how audiences simply stopped caring. The hunger artist ends up being replaced by a panther. Could this be what’s happening to live theatre today? There’s nowhere better to ask than at the Edinburgh Fringe which feels like the home of theatre and is a microcosm of the whole world of performing arts.”
Josh Luxenberg, who adapted the story for the stage in
collaboration with Levin and director Joshua William Gelb, says it is a full and fast-moving audience experience: “We squeeze all the possibilities out of every moment and idea. It’s a solo show where there is so much going on, with
so many transformations and so many other people on stage, that it never feels
like a solo show.”
- Venue: Zoo (Venue 124) 140, Pleasance, EH8 9RR
4 to 28 August
• Duration: 70
• Tickets: £9 to £11
office: 0131 662 6892
• Group: Sinking Ship Productions