When most people think of eating disorders, they usually don’t think, “That’s funny!” It is a serious problem, especially among young people. However, if there is any place with enough guts to try to make you laugh at the topic, it’s the Unicorn Theatre.

The aptly-titled "Hungry" is a comedy about Amy, a plain, slightly overweight teen girl who desperately wants to make the cheerleading squad. Her best friend scores her some weight-loss pills from Mexico. After taking too many, she hallucinates a Minotaur into her life. Amy’s neurotic mess of a mother (who is secretly hoping that her husband is not cheating on her) tries to help her, but succumbs to the same temptation as her daughter. As they both get accustomed to living with a Minotaur, things spiral downward from there.

Believe it or not, the humor works. It strikes the right balance of absurdity and pathos, so that the audience can relate to the themes being presented. And behind the humor is a serious examination of the motivations that drive our unhealthy actions. The Minotaur itself is a creative embodiment of the cannibalistic tendencies behind our ruthless quests for “self-improvement”.

Amy is played by Dina Thomas, who is pitch-perfect in this role. She plays the absurdity of her situation with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, while letting the reality of teenagers’ self-concept problems naturally soak through. Chioma Anyanwu plays Amy’s oversexed best friend Bianca. Anyanwu was previously seen as a wounded prostitute in last season’s Ruined, and the character of Bianca is pretty much the polar opposite (at least, on the surface). Bianca is almost a caricature of the high school cheerleader archetype, and Anyanwu brings a sarcastic but fragile sensitivity to the role. Katie Gilchrist does well as Amy’s mother, a tightly-wound neurotic mess who pressures Dina more than she realizes.

The most unusual character in the play, however, is the Minotaur. Played by the hunky Jeff Smith, he has the job of wandering around shirtless, and grunting. It’s a more difficult job than you might think, because he has to get his points across without actually talking. He does a surprisingly good job.

"Hungry" is a small, weird play about a tragic subject. As it progresses, it gets even weirder (and has a higher body count than I expected). But Director Cynthia Levin is an expert in finding the reality in unreal situations, and she makes this work. Anyone who is hungry for something different will find what they need at the Unicorn.

"Hungry" runs March 3-18 at The Unicorn Theatre's Jerome Stage, 3828 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased by calling (816) 531-7529, at their ticket office or online at www.unicorntheatre.org.

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