‘Hotter’ at the Fringe – experimental and warm, but just short of hot

Ela Portnoy leaves this piece of feminist theatre with a smile on her face

Photo: Transgression Productions

Mary Higgins and Ell Potter have created a show which sprinkles sound recordings, lip-syncing, and acting into one funky soup. On a quest for interviews, they asked people from all walks of life about their fears, thoughts and stories in relation to their bodies. The result is a wonderful mix of snippets, all based around the experience of being a woman in the 21st century.

The show is creative and fresh. So-called ‘cunting’ (cunt bunting) hangs from the ceiling, featuring gorgeous mandala-like patterns of genitals that are surprisingly entrancing. Higgins and Potter (together, Hotter) don a mixture of girly textures and patterns, all vintage and hipster but with a nice touch of humour, which they take off layer by layer throughout the show.

It’s well-made. You leave the theatre with a fuzzy feeling and a smile on your face. These are undoubtedly talented actors, and they’ve put together something new and very special. The show investigates the body just as it is, in the face of common modern insecurities – it is a celebration of wobbly bits, sweat, periods, poo, pee and everything in between.

But the show felt as though it only scratches the surface of something that is important and needs to be talked about. It is undoubtedly feminist theatre, and the performers are extremely culturally aware. At one point, Higgins gives a very honest monologue in response to a woman of 97 in which she discusses the struggle that she had with sexuality as a teenager, and how she has come to terms with the fact that it’s ok to watch porn.

But this troubled me and I couldn’t put my finger on the reason. After some thought, it occurred to me that the show is very encouraging of accepting yourself and being okay with who you are. And this is important. But in a feminist show, it is strange to gloss over porn as though it weren’t problematic, as though it wasn’t linked to exploitation and sex trafficking. In general, I felt like Hotter could have done more to investigate the reason behind people’s vulnerabilities – the take away message that we shouldn’t worry about our body image is great, but the show didn’t really give an insight into why people do feel this way in the first place.

Related  A sense of closure amongst dreaming spires

Audiences have been raving about this show. But I have seen Higgins and Potter act and direct many times in the past and have been blown away by their work before. This show didn’t blow me away, but I still left the theatre with a gentle and lovely feeling. 4 stars.