Hotter is a verbatim show with an intimate twist in its dealing with questions of body: fluids, issues and identity. The two performers, Ell Potter and Mary Higgins, have conducted interviews with "everyone from grannies to drag artists" and devised a piece of theatre inspired by the responses they received, including lip-syncing to the recording of the interviews, dancing, sketch theatre and recited open letters. The piece ends up questioning what it is to be embarrassed and to be honest and the cross-over between them.
Potter and Higgins complement (and compliment) each other well on stage, as they have different individual fortes, but a shared aim to explore. Potter is very strong in the moments where she recounts stories and experiences; her comic timing is fantastic and her style generous and candid. Higgins has a strong stage presence and her movement work is confident and watchable. It is easy to see why the collaboration between them has been so fruitful. Importantly, in the interviews they have conducted, it is obvious that the interviewees felt comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings with the pair, and the result is extremely open and truthful. This is really the core of the piece and their approach to the interviews and interviewees is perfect: it is respectful, loving and considered.
The piece itself, Potter and Higgins, are painfully honest throughout, and the biggest testament to this, somewhat ironically, is the awkwardness of the two performers in some moments of the piece. At times you feel that they are slightly holding back, that even they are not entirely comfortable discussing their sexual habits and bodies, even though they are performing a piece of theatre about it. The show constantly reminds us that while it’s so important to talk about these things, it’s also natural and totally ok to be embarrassed. We are going on a journey with Ell and Mary, from which they are learning too; there is no sense of hierarchical power from performer to audience, indeed, there’s hardly a separation between the two.
Similarly, Potter and Higgins were not afraid to tell us when things didn’t go to plan onstage, and they highlighted criticism of the project which they had received from one interviewee who wondered why they are so interested in bodies and not thoughts. In fact, this section was really interesting and could have been developed further. It’s so refreshing to see performers admit that they don’t have all the answers, and that art, like life, is always a work in progress.
Everything about Hotter was brave, strong, and joyful. It was an onstage collaboration between two people who clearly work extremely well together as well as being collaborative in its approach to the interviews which have been conducted. The piece ended with the audio of each of the interviewees describing a dance move they like, which Potter and Higgins listened to and slowly formed into a routine. The warmth exuding from the grinning pair as they filled the space with their movement was contagious.