Soho Theatre, London – until 15 June 2019
Guest reviewer: Christina Bulford
How well do you know your inner critic? When you look in the mirror, what does she or he whisper in your ear, or shout loudly in your face? “Too fat! Too skinny! Too jiggly! Not hot enough!” Ell Porter and Mary Higgins have not only listened to these voices, they’ve let them out of their heads and, unabashed, onto the stage – from fat to fitness, men to menopause, dildos to doctors’ surgeries, periods to poo and all the body bits in between. As former lovers they claim to know each other extremely well, inside and out, and go to great lengths to get to the bottom of all this body-business. Pun absolutely intended.
Determined not to be too self-centred about it all, they have interviewed a broad selection of women (cis, het, gay and trans) about their experiences and incorporated them through various verbatim techniques, from mime to the less conventional form of electronic music mash-up. Some of these voices come from unexpected places. An old people’s home, for instance, or what sounds like it could be on a bus. It all feels so ‘naughty!’ Whilst no one can never claim to speak for all women, they have made a noticeable effort to share the experiences of many, to both hilarious and humbling effect in word, movement and dance.
All these forms culminate in an hour that is part dance party, part therapy session, part orgy. They rub themselves, they howl, they expose themselves physically and emotionally under hot, pink lights, dancing like no one is watching. It’s all a bit overwhelming and my critics’ hat almost slips right off in the delightful, hot, sweaty mess. But OH, OH, OHHH you can feel yourself warm to these brazen young women as sincerity sweats out of every pore.
The audience tonight are clearly feeling all kinds of things; shouts of delight and peals of laughter ring out, and I can almost feel those around me begging with their eyes to join in. This is something this daring pair could invite to happen sooner – or maybe lifting the lid even a little would be to risk it boiling over. When Potter and Higgins read tell-all letters they have written to their younger selves, I wonder at what I would say – the feeling follows me home and into the next day.
This is not the first outing for Hotter, and the free sheet promises a new show is coming soon. I can’t imagine a more perfectly suited pairing and will hotly anticipate what comes next. It’s not clear whether this will also be directed by Jessica Edwards who, with loud and proud drag-girl-band Denim and poignant yet punchy, out-of-the-ordinary grief-play Sparks (both huge Edinburgh 2018 hits) also under her wing, is absolutely in her element with these two.
Hotter is a love/hate letter from our minds to our bodies – love them, loathe them and live in them as we always will. Whatever it’s doing, wherever we are Potter reflects sagely, your body “Is doing it’s best”.