The Hunger review | Pitch-black, pitch-perfect farmyard horror

Sheffield-based Black Bright Theatre deliver a properly chilling kitchen sink horror. Here’s our The Hunger review.


The premise of putting a girl with an eating disorder in a post-apocalyptic landscape is such a compelling idea it’s surprising to find little evidence of it having happened before.

As a thematic hook, it’s a bloody good one. How is a mother supposed to react when her daughter can’t eat the carefully rationed food placed in front of her? How can she deal with a mental health crisis when their physical health is at risk from either starvation or an indeterminate number of folks with an unspecified (but probably pretty nasty) disease?

If that idea has you hooked, then you’ll be pleased to know The Hunger really makes the most of its novel idea. Megan (Madeleine Farnhill)’s illness – which might textually be something else entirely, but presents itself firmly as anorexia – is authentically reproduced, and her frequent personality clashes with her mother, Deborah (Helen Fullerton) have a whiff of truth far-divorced from the supernatural situation they find themselves in.

Farnhill and Fullerton inhabit their roles to unnervingly naturalistic perfection. Helen Fullerton in particular embodies the spirit of ‘friendly Yorkshire mum’ so well it’s actually quite upsetting to watch her threaten to shoot an unseen maybe-sort-of-zombiefied child.

The Hunger also shows powerful restraint in the way it keeps most of the show’s horror offstage. While details surrounding the apocalypse do come, genuine spooks come not from anything too horrific that we can see, but the overwhelming feeling of dread maintained by a duo impressively well-versed in looking, terrified, into the distance.

From its opening minutes, then, The Hunger feels both fresh and brutally creepy. Even while the plot progresses in a fairly conventional manner, the performances, dialogue and eerie soundscape make this tale of a mother and daughter holed-up in a Yorkshire pig farm takes what could have easily felt like generic, regional horror and elevates it to a gripping hour of theatre.

The Hunger is playing at Assembly George Square until 28 August. You can view our comprehensive guide to the entire Fringe here.

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