Chris Bush is a darn impressive writer. We here at WhatsOnStage are currently counting down the days until the return of the fantastic Standing At the Sky’s Edge, which she supplied the book for. She’s part of the creative team for new musical Fantastically Great Women, also running in Edinburgh, with an irresistible album you can stream now.
But it turns out she can also bash out a wickedly watchable two-hander in Hunger. What starts out as a deceptively straightforward tale of two characters both falling in love and then falling out of it starts to ripple with additional themes and textures, like new flavours being coaxed out of a rich dish. Themes of class, race, cultural appropriation, weight, body image and shame all appear with blistering clarity – some only deftly alluded to while others provide emotional fulcrums for the pair.
We see the couple across two time periods that link together by the close – Lori a chef with very specific opinions when it comes to all things culinary, while Bex is a new member of the waiting staff who is yet to be introduced to a world of gourmet dining. You see all the ingredients of a relationship come together in a frothy melting pot, as well as all the tough edges when it starts to grow stale. It all, inevitably, unspools with messy droplets of misunderstanding and miscommunication. The couple’s relationship lulling them into the sort of comfortability that can expose hidden truths and thorny assumptions.
An extra bit of sizzle in Katie Posner’s production is the performances – Eleanor Sutton’s endearing muddling and heartfelt adulation masking prejudices she might not realise she has. Leah St Luce almost brings the house down in a final, lengthy monologue.
Watching Hungry feels a bit like watching a play like Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs – knowing that there will be countless future productions, small-and-large scale, over the coming years. A quick classic has been added to the canon – a resounding success for new writing company Paines Plough.