Reviews Edinburgh Fringe 2018 Published 13 August 2018

Edinburgh Review: (even) Hotter at Bedlam

Until 27 August 2018

Warmly chaotic: Ava Davies reviews Ell Potter and Mary Higgins’ show about bodies.

Ava Wong Davies
(even) Hotter at Bedlam.

(even) Hotter at Bedlam.

I think, like Ell Potter, you have always been aware of how your body sits in the world around you. I think a lot of it arises from the extraordinary, virulent anti-fatness in the East Asian community which has been ingrained in you since you can first remember, since you started getting given less rice on your plate than your brother at the kitchen table, since you saw pictures of your mother and your grandmother and your great grandmother, porcelain pale from their skin-lightening moisturisers and so slim you could see collarbones peeking out of cheongsams.

I think there is maybe a reason you wear black all the time. Because you laugh it off when people comment on the fact that you never wear colour but I think it’s something to do with wanting to be anonymous, wanting to let people’s gaze flit over you when they look around a room. You have never had a particularly good relationship with your body or with food but I know you try not to think about it too much because if you did then you would have to crack open all this learned self-hatred and scoop out the viscera and put it on the table in front of you and properly look at it and no-one wants to do that really, because it’s messy, and it’s gross and it’s just really fucking ugly, isn’t it?

You told yourself you would stop writing about yourself in reviews, that you needed to stop inserting yourself into these shows you see and you are, you are definitely doing it less and giving less of yourself to the 500 words you write everyday but it just feels nigh-on fucking impossible in the context of (even) Hotter because you could hear people crying around you, barking with delighted recognition, dancing onstage, holding hands with their friends with tears running down their faces.

You really love that Blood Orange song they play, the one which segues into Annie Lennox. You remember how it felt to see that dance segment last year. You don’t quite have the same gut-clench joy that you had from last fringe, when they run out from backstage in their underwear, but I think it’s maybe because the show meant so much to you last fringe that the reality of seeing it happen again in front of you can’t really rise up and overtake the memory anymore.

It’s made up of verbatim segments, quasi-standup routines, spoken word, little skits. It shouldn’t really coalesce as well as it does but Potter and Higgins have this mad chemistry which just kinda bats your reservations aside. You’ve just got to go along for the ride. You don’t know if it works better in Bedlam than it did in Paradise last year – something about having them risen up on stage, above their audience, feels antithetical to the entire message of the show. And there’s something still slightly odd about having two cis white woman speak, verbatim, the words of a woman of colour and a trans person, essentially embodying them onstage. You understand why they’ve done it and you’re not sure how else it would’ve been tackled, but it’s the only part of the piece which juts out a little awkwardly.

(You’re sorry that this review isn’t coherent but it’s hard to write cogently about a show as expansive, as warmly chaotic as this)

After the show I am crying a bit and I walk around the block. I lean against the side of a pub and I close my eyes. I am listening to Mitski which is purposefully making the crying a bit worse. I can feel the rain misting on my face and I remember that I haven’t showered today. I roll my shoulders back and take two breaths in and two breaths out, like Eve told me. I start to walk home.

(even) Hotter is on until 27 August 2018 at Bedlam. Click here for more details. 


Ava Wong Davies is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Edinburgh Review: (even) Hotter at Bedlam Show Info

Written by Ell Potter and Mary Higgins

Cast includes Ell Potter and Mary Higgins



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