Hungry review – souring romance with plenty to chew over

UNt first glance, Chris Bush’s two-hander is a study of a workplace romance. Eleanor Sutton’s Lori is a chef, stressed about getting her high-end food on the table. Leah St Luce’s Bex is the new waiter, considerably less invested in the art of fine dining. They are opposites attracting. Jumping back and forth in time, the script is all snappy flirtation and lovers’ tiffs.

On second glance, Hungry is a rather more nuanced study of social attitudes to food. In Katie Posner’s spare and speedy production in the Paines Plough Roundabout tent, the tension between the women reflects the values associated with what they eat.

Whereas Lori lives for the simple joy of an oyster or the pleasures of a tasting menu, Bex is more the Pot Noodle type. Yet both, in their way, understand that the communal breaking of bread, be it sourdough or processed, is a unifying social force.

The conflict arises from the way Lori gives her diet moral weight. Her love of food spills over into zealotry. Which is why, at third glance, Bush’s play is richer still: a complex vision of class exerting control.

Framed by Lori’s middle-class orthodoxy, her attempts to educate Bex on her food choices and those of her working-class family seem to reinforce the belief that the culture Bex cherishes is inferior. Naturally, Bex lashes out at that, not least as she grieves the mother whose food she grew up on. Their souring relationship brilliantly exemplifies the insidious reach of social power.

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