Review: Hot Mess at the Old 505 (Freshworks FEMME)

By Rosie Niven


For those that aren’t visiting the women’s bathrooms at clubs and bars, there’s apparently a lot of mystery about what we do in there. There’s many stand-up jokes about the cults we’re forming in there, and why on earth do we all go in packs? If you’ve ever wondered just what goes on, it’s time to head on over to the Old 505 and let this show share our secrets.


Brought to you by the award-winning collective The General Public, Hot Mess dives headfirst into the public bathroom of a club and explores the forced intimacy experienced within. The girl who needs consoling because she’s just broken up with her boyfriend, the girl who needs to give herself a pep talk in the mirror before making an important life decision, even the girl who borrows a tampon from you then spends 15 minutes telling how you’re THE MOST beautiful person she’s ever seen in her ENTIRE LIFE. Then won’t let you leave until you follow her on Instagram. As someone who visits the women’s bathroom, it’s hilarious to see what feels so normal after a few glasses of wine played out on stage - people you’d never interact with in any other capacity are suddenly your close friends and confidantes, right up until you step out of the bathroom door and back onto the dance floor.


You might remember The General Public from their intensely popular work Europe Won’t Fix You, that played the Adelaide and Sydney Fringe Festivals, and it’s great to see this powerhouse team of women back at it again in all their glory. They have a great cohesive energy, and their comfort with each other lends itself to a really genuine performance. Although at times the characters can feel like a caricature, we start to see our friends, exes, colleagues, in them - and embarrassingly, sometimes ourselves. It’s the kind of work that is so relatable that it’s easy to watch. In a recent interview, co-deviser Hannah Grace Fulton said, “we don’t write comedy. We write truth.” The beauty of HOT MESS is that you get both. You get an insightful piece about female relationships and fleeting intimacy, and you get a really good laugh as a bonus. Highlights include the song Your Body, Your Choice with some brilliant rap lyrics and a hilarious egg costume, and that moment when you take off your jumpsuit to wee and have to sit completely nude in a public toilet, hoping nobody knocks down the door. Brilliant too was Fulton’s improv with an audience member, bringing her in as an ex lover and weaving her into the song.


I saw the preview of HOT MESS, and there were a few moments that felt uncertain or unclear. The sharpness of transitions is the most significant - a lot of scenes began behind the toilet door, and often the lights would rise before the actor would get to their spot. However, I think these will be quickly ironed out over the next few performances. As Tasha O’Brien’s Directing debut, and coming from the Helpmann Award-winning show Playlist, she’s making a clear brand for herself with punchy, female-driven work. I’m looking forward to seeing what else she brings us.


Freshworks FEMME has been filled with strong female creatives this year, and HOT MESS is no exception. It’s refreshing to see female-driven stories that focus on the mundane and allows the everyday to just unfold in front of you. We’re not a plot device. We’re not sex objects. We’re just living our lives and coming together in a public space and for some reason, being vulnerable with people we’ve only just met. We’re all a bit of a hot mess, aren’t we?

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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