Rating: ★★★ (out of 4)
The story of Hansel and Gretel is one that we all have heard at somepoint in our lives. This iconic fairy-tale of german origin was first published in 1812 and has been read to children for decades. Two siblings, who find themselves far from home, out wit a cannibalistic witch who lures them into her home with sweets & dreams. Its very simple to summarize this epic tale having heard it many times. However; what if this story was looked at from a different perspective? From a deeper, more mature, more thought-provoking perspective?
The Hunger is a project by Uncanny House, a collective of artists, and is directed by Margaret Krawecka & choreographed by Malgorzata Nowacka. It is an adaptation of Hansel & Gretel into a unique theatrical experience. It uses one key element of the original story – the act of luring – as a means to discuss a common topic of the modern day: mass consumption. It wishes to explore – with the help of video projections, sound & movement – the overwhelming affects that the media has to make us consume more and more what seems to be an infinite choice of things.The original story wasn’t soft & cuddly. The talk of cannibalism & burning alive a witch are all mature themes. The Hunger taps into the mature theme of the original, tying in the political discussion of mass consumption.
You walk in and are greeted by this arena of bright lights and edible objects. A house, maze-like, with bread slices for walls, TV screens depicting advertising & the random voice of a child whispering product names. The maze truly is a maze, making you go in circles, revisiting the same things over and over again. This is similar to advertising, constantly trying to make you think of the same thing, again and again. In the midst of this already confusing space, you are greeted by actors who are wearing bird masks, portraying the birds in the original story, offering you cookies as you walk around; Sometimes giving it to you, sometimes not.
When you are finally out of the maze, you are randomly seated around the room, encircling the main space where the actors begin their performance. No dialogue, random bits of music and the childs voice still echoing product names in the background. You cannot help but feel taken in by this production. Every movement tackles the various elements of consumption, from community conflict to the aggressiveness of media promotion. What you see forth is a performance that really makes you think. There is no dialogue to help you out. Just movement, sound & imagery.
This production delivers what it sets out to do. You are captivated by both the production space & the performance, and are taken-in for a visual discussion about mass consumption. You are presented with a story you are familiar with but you are asked to think about something completely different. The magic lies in the deeper meaning. With patience and the ability to pay attention, you are rewarded with a production that immerses you into a discussion about a topic that has universal implications.
The Hunger plays at the Scotiabank Studio Theatre from May 24-27, 2012, where part of the ticket sales will be donated to the Westend Food Co-op, an organization that endorses healthy and sustainable local food options. Please visit their website for more information about the show and to buy tickets: www.thehunger.me