It is a truth universally acknowledged (or at least it should be) that nobody you ever meet will be more supportive of you and make you believe in your own power more than the random drunk woman you meet in the bathroom of a pub or club in the wee hours of the morning. She’ll tell you how fu*hiccup*ing beautiful you look, dry your tears and tell you he (or she, or they – whoever you’re heartbroken over) isn’t worth another salty drop, before borrowing your lipstick, and making you shed another tear – of joy, this time – then toddling off with a trail of toilet paper stuck to her shoe. In another version of this age-old story, you might score a sneaky pash, a shot, or something a little stronger.
Hot Mess, a hot new theatre show that understands the sacred bonds and high drama forged in the hallowed space of the ladies’ loos, and brings it to the Kings Cross Theatre stage this June. Its debut at Old 505 Theatre in 2019 sold out. Now it's back, messier than ever, overhauled with two new cast members and co-creators and it's easy to see what all the fuss was about the first time around.
From the actual toilet and graffiti-scrawled wall in the foyer (a much more exciting photo opp than a screen-printed wall) to the scattering of musical comedy interludes (including a contemporary take on the 'Cell Block Tango'), this show screams fun – but it doesn’t sacrifice substance for the sake of funnies. It delivers commentary on fertility and reproductive rights and crashes it with someone barging in wearing a giant fried egg costume. It starts off with a funny keyboard solo that actually has a sweet and hopeful message about the camaraderie between women and feminine folks.
Hot Mess has all the best elements of a silver screen chick flick, grounded in a relatable contemporary Sydney context with a queer feminine edge. It reveals unapologetically honest representations of life as a woman in the city. Maybe you’re a 30-year-old who is truthfully more in favour of curling up at home with a cross stitch than hitting the club; or a queer woman who hasn’t quite found the words to convey your sexual identity to your old best friend from your rural home town. Maybe you're a fun-time-loving chick who feels a growing disconnection from your life-long bestie since she moved away; or someone struggling to find a cheeky dancefloor pash while your best friend always seems to be the one who picks up. Maybe you're just a gal trying to deal with chronic IBS when she meets the potential love of her life in the next stall – or maybe you just really, really shouldn’t have worn a jumpsuit tonight.
Award-winning theatre and comedy collective The General Public are the brains behind Hot Mess. They've built a following in the last couple of years with their fast-paced and outrageous comedy shows that centre female and queer experiences. Directed by rising actor/director Tasha O’Brien (Playlist, The Sorry Mum Project), the cast is packed with Sydney theatre and comedy favourites including Jenna Suffern (Two Queers Walk into a Bar), Courtney Ammenhauser (FBi Radio, Noughty Girls), Mây Trần (Playlist), Jessica Adie (Sydney Comedy Festival), Alicia Dulnuan-Demou (Good Enough Show) and Hannah Grace Fulton (Noughty Girls).
This show is an excellent example of a successful collaborative creative approach, bringing together a hell of a lot of smarts to make something wonderfully stupid (in the best possible way). There were, actually, not too many cooks in the toilets. This production takes elements that could be weaknesses and turns them into strengths – the compact theatre and traverse stage setup at KXT leans into an intimate theatrical experience, the open toilet stalls in the staging lead to encounters that are exposing in both the physical and emotional sense (brace for some casual nudity).
Start a group chat with everyone you’ve ever added on Facebook after drunkenly meeting in the toilets and get your tickets here, because a theatre inside a pub in the Cross just feels right for a play set inside a public bathroom.