Show: (Even) Hotter
Venue: Bedlam Theatre
Star rating: *****
Reviewer: Ruth Brown
Mary Higgins and Ell Potter are back this year at Bedlam with their (even) hotter
production that takes interviews with women and trans people of all colours, shapes, and ages and interprets them on stage in a Creature Comforts-like audiovisual cocktail.
Although nothing is animated. And our two actors embody, act out scenes with, or create
musical montages with the recordings. It is truly a touching, funny and exploratory hour of verbatim theatre that brought me to tears and urged me to dance. Higgins and Potter
devised this piece to showcase marginalised voices, highlighting sexuality, gender, and
disability. They wanted to find out what made them blush.
Some of my favourite bits came in the prop work, the most comical of which being the use of two balloons during “big boobs”. Another wonderful moment comes when we are introduced to Pommy, Potter’s grandmother, and her stories. We hear about women’s first orgasms, periods and their portrayal in the media, the contrasts between younger and older women, issues surrounding female masturbation, bisexuality, black and trans representation, disabled women, over-sexualisation of groups, the female condition, why do we eat 16 hobnobs then feel disgusting, and the Robin Thick issue to name but a few.
Somehow Higgins and Potter manage to cram a hell of a lot into one hour, and it almost leaves you reeling and full to the brim so much so that you could burst. The sheer mental strength this requires of the viewer is an accurate projection of how it feels for most female identifying groups when thinking about these kinds of things on a daily basis. It’s an overwhelming muddle of things that you simply can’t sift through and our actors do not ask you to. Topics like this can only be explored, and not concluded. This is best explained by Potter when she reads her letter to her six year old self.
These two women were made to work together. They’re so in sync with each other’s movements and use their own feelings and fears for one another as part of the show. They clearly care deeply for the art they’ve created and those they’ve chosen to include in it. The raw emotion they lay upon the stage is infectious and thought provoking. Their energy is as unstoppable as an out of control train, but their precision and execution is tight and clean.
There is also much celebration in the show. Our actors ask, what is the best thing about your body?, which yields some wonderful answers. There is a lot of laughter and by the end of the show the audience are on stage dancing as we become part of the production. We are included in the celebration and the conversation as Potter and Higgins look on, smiling, from the seats. (Even) Hotter is remarkably well done and deserves to be seen by a wide variance of audiences, and its effects go beyond the doors of Bedlam when the audience members leave the auditorium. It is simply wonderful.
Multimedia is used particularly well in this production, supporting the performance. The screen at the back reveals private and hilarious text conversations between Higgins and Potter, highlights the lyrics of certain compilations and accents the piece as a whole along with the voice recordings, which are edited expertly to deliver various impacts. Repetitions of certain lines place emphasis on female insecurities, and dance tracks mixed using the recordings are seamless. The lighting and tech are very well done and is pivotal to the marking and smoothening transitions between sections. As 97 year old Anne said, “I wouldn’t have told you if you hadn’t of asked me”, but Higgins and Potter did ask, and they are asking, and I hope they’ll keep on asking so we can get (even, even) hotter.