Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Hot Mess explores the modern condition of love and sex and the increasing disparity between the two. It takes place in the basement of Hawke and Hunter, Edinburgh’s trendy new nightclub. The location gives it edge and places it firmly in the right here and right now. We can all relate to what is presented to us; do we look for instant gratification and sexual independence or do we attempt to follow old-fashioned romance and the quest for life-long partnership?
Polo and Twitch are twins whose birth presented a dilemma; which one kept the one heart that they were born with? Polo (Michael Whitham), as the name insinuates, receives the fate of having a ‘hole’ where his heart should be. He and his best friend, Jacks (Kerri Hall), delight in nothing more than predatory sexual conquest, exhibitionism and one night stands. However, Polo, unfeeling man that he is, does not personally partake, rather he coerces Jacks into it and watches the action unfold. Twitch (Gwendolen Chatfield) is quite the opposite; since childhood she finds herself falling helplessly in love. Her love is of the intensity that it injures others and, ultimately, leaves her alone and desperate. The play takes place on the night of Polo’s return to the small island where the twins were born from a year away on the mainland. The night is the twins’ birthday and the celebration acts as a microscope onto the habits, behaviours and intrinsic nature of the two siblings. They embody the two options of sexual relationships: love or sex.
The writing is imaginative, witty and subtly poetic. Hickson masterfully combines theatrical lyricism with intense realism. We fully understand and closely relate to the action and yet the show retains a wonderful theatricality as oppose to slipping into the banal. It is in this sense that the play is original and exciting to watch as a theatre-goer.
The show features some very accomplished performances. Chatfield is excellent. Her portrayal of the love-struck Twitch is just dippy enough to infer her blind dedication to love and yet does not descend into the cliché. Her singing is velvety and strong and a great addition to the musical score. Hall also gives a good performance providing great comic moments as well as a complex, quite tragic character desperate for attention and power through exhibitionism and commitment-less sex. Polo is played well by Whitham but one got the impression that the character was meant to be a slightly more haughtily handsome and callous socialite than Whitham portrayed.
The music is provided by a DJ from the club’s DJ box. The songs are contemporary and very well chosen. The first track played slips seamlessly from a club tune to a gooey acoustic version sung by Twitch. There is no set and none is needed; the club’s in built floor lights change the atmosphere from house interior, to nightclub, to moonlit beach with remarkable effectiveness.
This is a highly recommended show. It is original, fresh, poignant and funny.