The actress chatted to us about starring in Hunger at the Arcola Theatre from the 20th November.

Archie Backhouse and Jessica Tomlinson (c) Alex Brenner.

Hi Jessica, could you explain a bit more about what ‘Hunger’ is about? A young artist buoyed by an obsession to survive on his own terms. Who enters a downward spiral as the choices he makes begin to betray his best interests.

Were you at all familiar with Knut Hamsun’s novel before joining this production? No I wasn’t. What surprised me was how it did not shout as a novel from 1890. I was also intrigued by this prideful character and the actions he made. Separating artist from his art is key to seeing the compelling nature of this novel.

How does it feel to be part of bringing ‘Hunger’ to the Arcola Theatre? Exciting. Especially to be a part of this Autumn season which has headed such a strong female creative team.

What was it that made you want to be involved with this production? It is a thought-provoking piece, which will enthuse people into conversation. To be struck by pathos, disgust, laughter and to leave even with one niggling thought, about who we are, reflected in the world we live in, that to me is perfect theatre.

What do you think that audiences can take away from this story in 2019? I think what Hunger really highlights is that the languages that drive this play, poverty,anxiety, loneliness are timeless. The same kind of austerity people faced in the 1890s isn’t too dissimilar to our current social or political climate. And how many missed pay cheques can we honestly say we are from finding ourselves without a home.

Was there anything that you could relate to in the story at all? Mostly it makes you consider your own actions as a member of society and our own impact. Shifting perspectives and thereby keeping conversations open, is often all it takes to act and think with more humility. Also, the struggling artist in the city is unfortunately something most actors can relate too.

What can we expect from this production? To follow one person’s journey through a labyrinth of obstacles, that fuse sound, movement
and a myriad of multi-rolling characters, often finding bleak humour in the hopeless despairing circumstance.

By Emma Clarendon

Hunger will play at the Arcola Theatre from the 20th November until the 21st December.

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