By Alyssa Seidman
On Oct. 19, the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts hosted the live stage comedy “Hungry Hungry Games” at its concert hall. With the tag line “The funniest show in the district,” the “Hungry Hungry Games” takes on the treasured film franchise rooted in Suzanne Collins’ novel trilogy.
The Tilles Center atrium was teeming with anticipation before the doors to the Concert Hall were officially open for business. Ticket holders comprised mainly of fandom-struck pre-teens and their parents, as well as fandom-struck teenagers. The attendees then filtered into the Concert Hall once the ‘games’ were ready to begin.
The stage was set simply for the show, with only a large scaffolding piece fixed with ladders and platforms sitting center stage.
A haunting fog blanketed the stage as the lights dimmed. Suddenly, rap music blasted through the speakers as the five-person cast made their grand entrance. The low-numbered nature of the cast required the majority of the actors to take on multiple roles. Two actors had seven characters apiece. The whole show followed the same storyline as the original “Hunger Games,” with one striking exception: head writer Jim Millan’s creations nowhere near resembled the franchise characters (save common tells from the trilogy such as Katniss’ bow skills and Peeta’s artistry).
Aside from having polar opposite personalities, the parody characters had different names from those in the book – my personal favorites being Haystacks Abercrombie taking place of Haymitch Abernathy, and Influenza Babygap taking place of Effie Trinket.
The performance poked fun at what was considered to be the norm in “The Hunger Games” franchise. Viewers witnessed President Snoo self-deprecating the ridiculous behaviors of the Capitol citizens, Gabe be- ing completely obvious about his attraction to Kat, and Cable revealing the tragic reality surrounding the trilogy through his sick rhyme during a tribute rap battle.
The show was intriguing and hilariously funny due to the witty writing team and well placed pop culture references – most notably, Miley’s VMA twerk fest. There was much focus on the little parts that made up Collins’ work, such as hilarious banter between game makers and an inside look at the hive of the lethal crackerjack.
One scene that caused rip-roaring laughter among the audience was the introduction of Cinna’s counterpart, Sinner, who the tributes of District 12 believe is Lenny Kravitz (who played Cinna in the film) in the flesh. Another sidesplitting instant was the character Foxface’s foil, Tonka Bookweenis, experiencing “the womanly change” while competing in the arena, ending with her imminent expiration, and a comedic lament about her “transformation.”
Of course the “simmering sexual tension” between Kat and Peter was explored, where every interaction between the characters made you feel like The Hunger Games crossed paths with your run-of-the-the mill teen dramedy. The “star-crossed lovers” are portrayed as just that right off the bat, followed up with wise cracks from Haystacks and fellow tributes. Picture “High School Musical” with less singing and more killing.
Overall, Millan’s brainchild tickled the funny bone of the viewers. The intimate, highly talented cast showed some serious comedy chops, and the little use of props required a reliance on improving the script and using sound effects, which dismissed sticking to the usual majesty of live stage production. Millan directed his witty script with relaxed professionalism, utilizing little-known names packed with star-quality skill. “The Hungry Hungry Games” will continue their nationwide tour until early May, making stops at other well-known venues along the way.