JOYCE MCMILLAN on SEVEN HUNGERS at Summerhall, Edniburgh, for The Scotsman 20.10.14.
3 stars ***
IN THE AGE of the Great British Bake-Off, the question of hunger – and what it is we really hunger for – has never been more significant. We watch cookery programmes but do not cook; we eat ourselves into obesity as a solace for other yearnings our society no longer seems able to meet. So it’s thrilling to see the Scottish-based physical theatre ensemble Company Of Wolves turn their attention to the idea of hunger; five powerful performers flexing their muscles, raising their voices, and filling the Main Hall at Summerhall with strange, magnificent eddies of sound.
The one-hour show itself sometimes seems a little less than certain of its direction. It often hints at a link between our disturbed relationship with food and our bleak or problematic sexual lives, but never quite achieves the choreographic intensity that would bridge the gap between the two; it slides too easily towards the current cliche of thought and movement which suggests that human beings are really just animals, or insects, or half-formed foetal creatures.
The sound, though – created by Anna Porubcansky – is something else, a stunning mixture of the elemental and the human that uses sampled wisps of human voice alongside thrillingly-sung traditional songs from Circassia, Chechnya and Ukraine to give full expression to the height and range of human yearning, physical, emotional and spiritual. In that sense, Seven Hungers often looks like a work-in-progress, still searching for the shape that would give its ideas their fullest value; but as it travels on this week to Easterhouse, Rothesay and Arrochar, it looks set to make a profound impression on everyone drawn into its circle of experience.