Billed as a ‘satirical cross between Fleabag and Bridesmaids’, we find ourselves thrown in to Peach&Taylor’s latest creation, a preview for their run at the Edinburgh fringe.
We meet six women in the toilet at Sinead’s bottomless brunch (whom we never meet but are told that she’s like a blue bottle flying around a room- you know, ‘a bit annoying but not enough to take decisive action’). It’s her hen party, and her friends are all at end of their tethers. Cue sex jokes, penis pasta and drunken crying in the toilet.
There’s Jade (Aarti Jalan) - a single mother, Saskia (Olivia Snell) - a divorcee, perpetually drunk Pippa (Kate Crisp), Sinead’s sister Evie (Lily Jones) and Hannah (Eden Peppercorn) - sister-in-law-to-be and wonderfully out of place. The piece really takes off when delightfully irritating work friend Nina (Charlotte Bartholomew) prances in, belting the Strictly theme song, laden with penis shaped straws and an inappropriate banner ordered from Amazon. Charlotte Bartholomew is truly perfect, and in the latter half of the play it was touching to see a different side to Nina, in an exchange with Saskia the 32-year-old-divorcee about whether they’re both truly happy. The cast all do well playing beyond their years, and are generally very believable.
Occasionally, Peach&Taylor’s script made me howl, notably one Tinder bio that reads an all too familiar crass and desperate pick-up line: “James: 18 holes a day and I still find time for golf”. However it is not always as quick-witted as the rather brilliant title would suggest. The explorations of marriage, tinder and the biological clock (ie. the very foundations of this piece) fall heavily into the feminist tropes we’ve heard so much of already, with shows such as Fleabag and Netflix’s Easy leading the way. At the risk of sounding patronising, it is no surprise that Hot Flush veers slightly into obvious territory- after all, it is unfair to expect a twenty-something student to have any new insight into being a single mother or having an ex-husband. To say that these topics are over-explored does not take away from the importance of these conversations, and perhaps some audience members found particular moments refreshing.
In scenes without the fire-cracker that is Nina, the dialogue falls slightly flat and the comedic timing is lost. Having seen these cast members excel with much tougher scripts, this can only be down to lack of rehearsal time. With another week of rehearsals to go before their run at the Edinburgh fringe, I’ve no doubt that this show will be scrubbed squeaky clean until it is the shiniest and smoothest toilet out there.