Hot on the heels of their Edinburgh Fringe success, HOTTER, theatre makers Mary Higgins and Ell Potter return with a new show running at the Soho Theatre. FITTER follows the same style and structure of their previous show, but this time focusses on masculinity.
In HOTTER, Mary and Ell had interviewed females, and those who identify as female about what makes them hot, now it is the turn of men, and those who identify as masculine, to be questioned on what makes them hard. Mary and Ell’s subjects range from an 8-year-old to a 102-year-old, but also includes their own views and experiences with masculinity.
Recordings of the interviews are played, often with Mary and Ell mouthing along, and are interspersed with dance routines and music. As is often the case when interviewing ‘ordinary people’ moments of comedy gold appear from nowhere, and Mary and Ell play on this to great effect. In one scene the pair perform a ballet while a disembodied voice describes the process of douching, and naturally the audience are in hysterics.
There’s a certain irony in two females performing a show about masculinity, and the fact that men are hardly under represented in theatre does not go unnoticed by the performers either. But just as with HOTTER, it’s clear the amount of research and preparation that has gone in to ensuring the message is delivered with sincerity alongside plenty of humour.
FITTER does have more poignant moments too, there’s a scene towards the end where a stories are pulled from their ‘box of trauma’ and the audience become transfixed on each of the performers in turn, as they share harrowing memories from their past.
I can vividly remember seeing their previous show at the end of a long month in Edinburgh, it had me weeping at one point and up dancing with strangers in the next. Neither of these experiences are repeated with FITTER, which feels altogether more subdued and lacks some of the hopefulness and positivity I had come to expect. Perhaps this is intentional, a commentary on toxic masculinity or a representation of too many women’s experience of men, but either way it left me feeling slightly deflated.
However, FITTER remains a beautifully constructed piece of theatre, and much of that is down to the honest and open way Mary Higgins and Ell Potter deliver a performance built on meticulous planning and research. It is a show that will have a different meaning to different people, but everyone will be able to appreciate the inventiveness of the performance.
FITTER is at Soho Theatre until 4th January 2020. HOTTER will also run at Soho Theatre between 27th – 30th December 2019.