Starved Review at Hope Theatre
PUBLISHED: 09:13 23 July 2019
A brilliantly acted Shane Meadows-esque story of two runaways misses brilliance but its blunt realism yields some eye-catching moments
Two young runaways hide out in a decrepit, messy bedsit in one of Hull's roughest estates.
Lad and Lass - Michael Black and Alana Connaughton, respectively - flex love and loathing in their cooped-up hovel.
It is a life on the margins, and yet also at the sharp-end; suffocated by the incessant pressure of trying to eke out survival through acts of petty crime.
Clocking in at merely 60-minutes, Starved bursts out of the traps. Lad crashes into the squat declaring that he has been followed.
Panicked, he says that he must shave his head to avoid identification. But Lass pleads for calm and soon subdues the chaos.
The two fugitives begin to observe their perilous circumstances with humour and frustration.
The reality of their day-to-day existence places reliance on simple things: roll-ups, Cup-a-Soup and plentiful vodka.
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They invent games to play and spy out of the window looking for the members of the local community for whom they have created comedic nicknames.
They tell each other stories. And they turn on each other.
Although taut in duration, the narrative looks leggy and out on its feet by the time the final quarter rounds into view.
Black's play is weighed down by a dependency on withholding the revelation about Lad and Lass's exile, so when the denouement finally comes, it turns out to be diverting but not compelling.
The choreographed section to denote the passing of time is clunkily realised despite its inventiveness.
But the colloquial use of Hull vernacular is incisive and eye-catching, popping with a matter-of-fact, blunt realism adeptly brought to life by the two brilliant leads.
Similarly, the web-like ropes that form the walls of their hiding place is a potent if obvious metaphor.
Starved has the feel of a Shane Meadows film - you can see where it wants to go and what it wants to be - but it falls between two stalls, between being something truly outstanding and a big disappointment.
A moderate success then, but a bright future awaits both Black and Connaughton.