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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

The Last Show Before We Die

Hotter Project

Genre: Cabaret, Physical Theatre, Verbatim Theatre

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

Hotter Project brings their third show, The Last Show Before We Die, a unique cabaret about endings.


Endings, as inevitable as they are, dreadful to most. Hotter Project explores endings in all forms in The Last Show Before We Die. Mary Higgins and Ell Potter are best friends, exes, flatmates and work partners. Through this play, in which they research and represent endings, they explore if their relationship should end, if they would be better off on their own, if this maybe is the last show before they die. They interviewed a midwife, a climate activist, a former addict, a palliative carer, their barber, Mary’s grandad and a five-year-old. The show is a cabaret of verbatim scenes, physical representations of the recorded interviews, songs and scenes from Ell and Mary’s relationship. The leads are researchers and subjects in their own experiment.

The Last Show Before We Die is a whirlwind of gut-wrenching punches and laughter, beautifully devised and performed. With a unique vision Mary and Ell explore these different stories, representing them with respect and making the audience feel the weight of each ending. Often the stories will develop into absurd and surreal scenarios, more akin to the feeling of the ending rather than the ending itself. The duo is extremely engaging in these moments, but they are intoxicating when they are playing themselves. The scenes of their relationship are intensely real and private, making you question if it’s a performance at all. Their chemistry is palpable which makes the possibility of an ending even more heart-breaking. The relatability of endings and an intense relationship possibly coming to an end has no bounds. The audience find themselves deeply invested in their story and their exploration of endings. All the scenes strike hard, but the duo is also very skilled at verbal and physical comedy, disarming you with laughter to then hit you with drama. Their singing skills are stellar and the dancing, although not incredibly technical, is very powerful.

The show is created masterfully for a round stage, with the whole performance choreographed in circles, making it extremely dynamic. There is a particular scene at the start that embodies this, where the leads are doing their morning routine, gathering items from the first row, throwing these to each other and going round performing little morning actions taken to surrealist extremes. The whole show is a living thing, with the audience involved and the props, costumes and performances developing in this cyclical and electrical manner. The progression of the show supports this liveliness too, as it starts with Ell and Mary dead and naked, then they resurrect and start living, gradually covering themselves until ending up fully clothed.

At the Edinburgh Fringe, where thousands of shows are in offer, The Last Show Before We Die is an incredibly unique show and the epitome of the Fringe essence, with experimentation, outstanding performances and powerful stories. This is a show that leaves you equally gutted and hopeful, laughing at your own miseries. At the age of 27, Hotter Project has created a wonderfully original and ground-breaking piece. I can’t wait to see what they do next, together or apart.