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“Kitchen sink drama meets post-apocalyptic horror” – Returning to the stage with The Hunger

Showing this month, The Hunger brings atmosphere and suspense to the new DINA Venue at Fitzalan Square.

Online rehearsal for The Hunger DINA play

Online rehearsal for The Hunger.

Sheffield has a unique, vibrant independent arts scene, which despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and a continued lack of funding has managed to keep going. With aspects of life returning to what resembles normality, a return to theatres is for many people a long-awaited activity.

I recently sat down with one of Sheffield newest and most exciting production teams, who are debuting their first piece of theatre at DINA Venue this month. The Hunger is an original play written by Madeline Farnhill, who describes it as “kitchen sink drama meets post-apocalyptic horror, a play about morality and motherhood at the end of the world.” It’s co-directed and produced by Helen Denning who has experience in producing and acting and production managed by Alex McCann. All members of the production team have successfully cracked the famous Edinburgh Fringe and have known each other for “a while, in a creative sense”.

As an original piece of writing, it’s a testament to Sheffield’s ability to nurture and support its artists, especially after the challenges of Covid-19.

The team are female-led, sadly still a rare thing, and they pride themselves on their writing of female characters, says Maddie.

“I have seen a lot of female characters and the way they are misrepresented in media growing up, so I was inspired to write a play that reflected – and corrected – this.”

Maddie also drew on her Yorkshire roots through the approach she took to the storyline. “I am keen to represent where I am from and the pride I feel being from here in my writing.”

The Hunger is not a run-of-the-mill play. Set in 1986, an isolated mother and daughter are living on their farm in the Yorkshire Dales. The world outside is crumbling and they are seeking refuge in what was once their home. Afraid and vulnerable, the fragility of their existence is threatened by an unexpected visitor.

Featuring themes of motherhood, coming of age, intergenerational relationships and morality, the play contains strong language, disordered eating, alcoholism, domestic abuse and cannibalism, as well as references to death, violence and suicide – so it’s no surprise it comes with an age recommendation of 14+.

“Atmosphere and suspense are at the forefront,” says production manager Alex, who goes on to credit their brilliant cast and equally brilliant but often overlooked technicians, who are working to make the project extra special.

The team is clearly excited to share their hard work with audiences. Their dedication to this project despite everything is amazing, balancing between them a final year at university and two full-time jobs. Helen tells me she is most looking forward to “giving multiple different people a chance to shine again after far too long”.

Learn more

You can see The Hunger on 21-23 June 2021 at DINA’s new home at Fitzalan Square.

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