Get Cultured — June 12, 2017 at 1:50 pm

“A Hunger Artist” is a Powerful One-Man Epic

by

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Art in all its subjectiveness has helped shape culture since the beginning of civilization. From drawings on a cave wall to stories being projected on a huge screen, art has had its hand in popularizing trends throughout history. The art itself has a popular cycle, in which it becomes as much about the spectacle and the adulation as it is about the work itself. This is what people call the golden age, when the art has reached it’s zenith in popularity. But like everything in life, it reaches its finale; the golden age ends and the art either stays around in the fringes or is forgotten by most of its community. “A Hunger Artist” by Josh Luxenberg, based on a story by Franz Kafka, does a tremendous job of demonstrating this cycle and and the morbid curiosity that drives most human entertainment.

Performed magnificently by Jonathan Levin, “A Hunger Artist” is a one man show that feels like an epic tale of love, hate and dreams. All deterred, all ruined, all about the work itself, no people. From selling big theaters in Europe to being a circus act in the United States, Levin takes us on a journey that not many actors will be able to pull off. Divided in two parts, it starts with a man talking about the hunger artist and his fame. The good old days and his resolution on being the best. His arrogance and pain. All on display, all for us to pick and check. But it’s after a fun little scene in which audience members joined him on stage that Levin gets his time to shine. Using movement, he takes us throughout the life of the artist from venues in Europe, his fame, his decline, and his exile that leads to a humiliating end. This is the kind of production that usually has a massive cast, projections, and a massive team behind it.  Levin does it all by himself.

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Director Joshua William Gelb crafted a work of theater that will speak to everyone, not just artists. The truth is, life is mostly going through ups and downs and hopefully ending in dignity or self worth. We all have a golden age, we all have an expiration, too, and this play does a gorgeous job of detailing the sacrifices that makes us reach the peaks of our lives and how they ultimately could cost our happiness.

The team assembled by Sinking Ship Productions deserves a big shout from this reviewer. They almost felt like characters without ever being seen. The transformation that happened to the stage when they closed the curtain behind Levin was as impressive as what you see in the big Broadway venues, and it was done just as smoothly. It felt like a symbiotic relationship between Levin and the stage hands. Each one complimenting each other, one of them getting all the spotlight, the others happy in being the unsung heroes. What a production!

“A Hunger Artist” was an experience as much as it was a play. I left both shaken and satisfied. Inspired, yet mauled. What a great feeling it is when a play makes you feel this alive! Don’t miss it.

*All images via Kelly Stuart

Out of 4 stars:

4 stars

Twisted Talk: Have you seen ‘A Hunger Artist?’ What did you think of the show? Discuss below!

 

 

 

 

 

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