Theatre makers Ell Potter and Mary Higgins return to the Edinburgh Fringe following two sold out runs at London’s Soho Theatre with their fiercely funny and truly honest show, HOTTER. It’s hard to describe exactly what kind of production this is, a mix of verbatim recordings, visceral monologues and a giant party could all be used effectively, but none of them on their own could really do it justice.
Directed by Jessica Edwards, the show opens with Ell and Mary mouthing along to some recorded interviews, Creature Comforts style. They make it very funny indeed and they’ve clearly worked hard to ensure their lip syncing is spot on. We learn that they have interviewed a series of women and transpeople aged 11 – 97 about what makes them hot, and that includes in a sexual sense (although they assure us they didn’t ask the 11 year old those questions).
Ell and Mary tell us they are best friends, but also ex-girlfriends and there are some very frank discussions about their past relationship. It also means they feel entirely comfortable with each other – they leave the door open to poo and regularly talk about masturbation. In fact, there’s quite a long segment dedicated to masturbation which is talked about so openly and freely the pair might as easily have been discussing what they were having for dinner.
The subject matter may not be the type that comes up in your everyday conversations, and yet feels entirely natural and unabashed in the hands of Higgins and Potter. So too do the letters they have written to each other, which paint an intimate portrait of their lives together and apart.
HOTTER strips back the layers of female sexuality, just as the performers strip off layer after layer of clothing as the show progresses. In the penultimate scene it all gets very emotional and sniffles and sobs can be heard from the audience (including myself), and then something happens that I’ve never seen before in a theatre – from despair and heartache a joyous party erupts, the audience are on their feet and people are hugging those around them, it felt so pure and beautiful.
In whichever way you choose to describe your interpretation of HOTTER one thing is for sure, it will make you feel something, it will make you think long and hard about the life you’ve led and the life you want to lead, and it will teach you to celebrate everything about your life, even masturbating.