Review: Hot Mess
Image: Vernal Theatre Company
Twitch - Katrina Allen
Polo - Timothy Renouf
Jacks - Natalia Titcomb
Billy - Gareth Balai
Twins, Polo and Twitch are celebrating their 25th birthday on a big night out.
Born with only one heart between them: Polo is not looking to be loved and Twitch can do nothing but.
Join them on their raunchy night out with trips down memory lane, pumping music and plenty of laughs.
From the playwright, Ella Hickson, who brought you OIL and EIGHT.
This is the second play I've seen about twins in just under a week at the same theatre.
But I think it's a matter of simple coincidence rather than something that should be regarded as dramatically significant or some kind of obsession on the part of the management - or producers conniving in some way.
Still, it's sort of appropriate that two plays about twins come along at the same time!
Playing as part of this year's Camden Fringe, 'Hot Mess' is certainly a well-acted and well-directed play.
The start, though, left me perplexed and my puzzlement deepened quite a bit as the piece progressed.
The play is about twins Twitch and Polo.
At the beginning, we're told that Polo was born without a heart and that surgeons took a bit of Twitch's heart to make one for Polo in an 'unprecedented' operation.
Now I may be completely wrong, but I don't buy that, even though I am not a surgeon nor up-to-date with the latest medical techniques.
Later, when we get an explanation for Polo's name (which is not your average kind of moniker) we're told it came from the fact his heart had a hole in it, ie as in 'Polo the mint with the hole in it'.
So, I was left exasperated, not knowing what the real situation was about Polo's pumping organ.
To add to the confusion, the play also refers to 'heart' in terms of romance and love.
And Polo doesn't seem to have a romantic 'heart' at all.
In fact he doesn't seem interested in romantic love, or even sex of any kind.
On the other hand, his twin Twitch does have a romantic 'heart' and wants to love and be loved, but worries that lovers will leave her, and they do.
In spite of the confusing elements, Ella Hickson's script embodies some interesting descriptions and the characters are believably well-drawn.
It also includes numerous references to sex and sexual encounters, but these are largely appropriate since a lot of the play takes us through the twins' development through childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.
A strong, highly capable cast work well both individually and together as an ensemble, and Katrina Allen, who plays Twitch, provides some delightful singing too.
Moreover, the cast admirably and professionally maintained their composure when someone from the audience left noisily during the performance, slamming the door as they exited, then doing exactly the same on their return.
Intentionally or not, the play highlights the fact that twins and, more generally, siblings can turn out to be very different in spite of the same nurturing.
But what the siblings here do seem to have is a very close bond with each other and maybe that is the point the play is really making, ie that we depend upon those we've known longest, like siblings, or long-term partners more than those we might casually encounter along life's journey.
Highly watchable performances maintain overall interest throughout and justify a visit, even if the big ideas in the play are not quite so clear as they might be.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for The Lion & Unicorn Theatre
Our show listing for Hot Mess
Read our reviews' policy