Genre: Feminism, Verbatim, Physical Theatre. Venue: Paradise in Augustine's. Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
The Low Down
A new verbatim play devised by Mary Higgins and Ell Potter, HOTTER platforms the voices of everyone - from grannies to trans women to teenage girls. By drawing on their own experiences as well as collating the stories of others, HOTTER presents a nuanced and uncensored portrayal of the human body. The show fuses recordings, movement and original music to explore how our bodies can make us both laugh and cry.
This was a punt on an unknown venue, with an unknown theatre company to see a proper fringe show. It had been recommended to me through a conversation with a group of sassy, creative, vibrant twenty-year-old women. We enjoyed one of those rare and nourishing conversations that gets right into the nuts and bolts of things, in this case the subject had been about gender, and it had led them to recommend this show to me, so I decided to trust them on it. Which in turn led to me taking a whole gang of friends, made up of mixed genders, to go and see Hotter.
The show is simply staged. We enter the auditorium and there's already two young women striking a pose on the stage adorned in brightly coloured clothes. Hanging along the ceiling is bunting made out of cartoon pictures of vaginas, which we discover later is called 'Cunting'. The show opens with the women mouthing along verbatim to interview recordings about whether the interviewees preferred being cold or hot. The two performers are instantly charismatic, funny and endearing. They mouth along to the words perfectly, which sets me at ease. It showed commitment to their craftsmanship and this allowed me to relax... It wasn't going to be awful. The piece opened feeling like Creature Comforts and was just as funny. But this was only the beginning.
What unfolds before us is a colourful collage of questions, reflections and discoveries about the female experience and about living with a body that doesn't always feel like it's your own. Some moments are funny, some moments are painfully sad and some are deliciously surreal. But the whole piece feels truthful and beautifully washed with brightly coloured playfulness. Overall it leaves you with an overwhelming sense of celebration.
Mary Higgins and Ell Potter are endearing performers and they remain committed throughout the show to the sometimes peculiar choices they've made with the piece, but their commitment to every choice means you feel right behind them every step of the way and in turn feel supported as an audience member to go there with them. I was genuinely impressed with the confidence they had in their delivery. Even when being vulnerable and revealing their cracks to us, it was delivered in a strong and confident way. It was a pleasure to watch them work.
The show ends with a wonderful moment of festivity and elation. This left us all with a strong sense of unity and generosity towards both ourselves and each other. This show is by women, but it isn't just about being a woman. Anyone who has experienced having a body will enjoy this show. Bodies are complicated places to be and we all left the theatre feeling we had laughed, cried and celebrated our own bodies in a room full of other people doing the very same thing. It was a brilliant fringe moment and I highly recommend getting out the big venues and going and taking a punt on this.