By the time it was in the food chain it was too late to do anything about it, the infection spreading from the supermarkets through the entire population even though symptoms didn’t become apparent until later, the madness, the violence, the hunger, the few who were spared surviving because of circumstance rather than careful planning and preparation; “It’s scary how lucky we are,” Deborah tells her weeping daughter Megan whose appreciation of events is somewhat different.
Living on a pig farm far beyond the cities where hope died first and the people soon after, Megan was brought up under the strict eye and firm hand of a mother who never bought from supermarkets, only cooked what she slaughtered herself, now equally inflexible in the rules which must be obeyed, to shutter the windows at night so no light escapes, to watch and listen for any strangers approaching and to shoot them on sight.
Directed by Natalie Simon, The Hunger is written by Madeleine Farnhill who stars as Megan, skinny, pale and so anxious she is unable to eat, a contrast to Helen Fullerton as stoutly built Deborah; practical, focused and unflinching from what must be done, a coarse woman accustomed to the hardships of life on the farm, she is exactly what is needed in these times, and perhaps predictably nothing puts her off her feed.
Told on a single set, the kitchen table with its lace cloth and burning lamp offering the false comfort of a homestead, the gun laid across it says everything the characters don’t, some things too terrible to discuss when there are other matters at hand, Dolly pregnant, the other pigs bad tempered and biting and the body of a stranger who came too close to be disposed of, something Deborah can’t do alone.
The actions Deborah takes in order for them to survive understandable, are they justifiable? With no children, nobody depending on her, Megan, has the luxury of a conscience, resolute and defiant, infuriating her mother who scolds her for ingratitude and wasting food, but there is no cure for The Hunger, no easy way out or right answers, performed without a shred of doubt, raw as the meat of the slaughterhouse and bloody as the sacrifices a mother makes for her only child.
The Hunger runs at Assembly at George Square until Monday 28th August