Hot Mess – Ella Hickson


First per­formed at the Hawke & Hunter Below Stairs Night­club, Edin­burgh, on August 6, 2010, as part of the Edin­burgh Fes­ti­val Fringe.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Twitch             Gwen­dolen Chat­field
Polo                 Michael Whitham
Jacks               Kerri Hall
Billy                 Solomon Mousley

Direc­tor: Ella Hickson

Twitch: Twenty-five, gamine—Polo’s twin sis­ter
Polo: Twenty-five, cool and caustic—Twitch’s twin brother
Jacks: Twenty-six, well-tanned and big-breasted
Billy: Twenty-four, Amer­i­can, good-looking

Pub­li­ca­tion: Hick­son, Ella. Pre­cious Lit­tle Tal­ent & Hot Mess. Nick Hern Books, 1011. Drama Library PR6108.I32 P74 2011.

Set­ting: Hayling Island, an island in the Solent, the strait that sep­a­rates Eng­land from the Isle of Wright; the present

Lan­guage: Con­tem­po­rary and graphic at times, but rich and poetic ; a few Eng­lish slang terms but noth­ing that impedes understanding


Come on then, Jaque­line! Get some bloody crotch-swatches out. It’s not a cel­e­bra­tion unless half the island can see your ovaries!

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  Polo and Twitch are twins who were born with only one heart between them; the physi­cian gave it to Twitch, so she can’t stop falling in love and Polo was left heart­less:  a fit­ting metaphor for the split between exces­sive roman­ti­cism and cyn­i­cism.  Over the years Twitch has had a series of unhappy rela­tion­ships and hor­ri­ble things keep hap­pen­ing to the boys and men she falls in love with.  The play, which unfolds like a pecu­liar thriller, does not make clear who is respon­si­ble for the hor­ri­ble things hap­pen­ing:  Twitch or Polo.  Rather than pro­vid­ing any answers about any­thing:  either the mys­tery of the deaths or whether it’s bet­ter to love openly or to keep your heart to your­self, the play­wright seems more inter­ested in just explor­ing ideas with­out com­ing to any conclusions.



Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 111:  Polo tells the story of how the first boy who ever made out with Twitch ended up being elec­tro­cuted the night of the school disco.  


Peter Har­ris, six­teen years old, behind the bike shed of the Island Acad­emy. It was the day before the school disco. I’d spent two weeks look­ing for the right dress for you, the right shoes, the right hairband.

[Lines cut]

–two hun­dred and thirty volts, saw our Petey fly­ing through the air—quite the spec­ta­cle, turned his hair into the short and curlies that he’d so enjoyed explor­ing the day before. And try as they might, they just couldn’t make it straight again.

p. 129:  Polo tells the story of Nathan Har­vey, a col­lege boy who broke Twitch’s heart and ended up scald­ing his foot in the bath.  


Nathan Har­vey, uni­ver­sity. No place for some­one with a heart like Twitch’s. There was no fresher fresher; she was a cer­ti­fied first-timer. Nathan, poor schmuck, had no idea what he was unlock­ing.  [Lines cut]

The sole of his right foot:  scalded, scarred, third-degree. Freak acci­dent, should have tested it with his toe, no one knows how it happened—but Nathan Har­vey never walked the same again.

p.136:  Jacks spies on her father who has just got­ten a blow-job; the woman who gave it to him has scraped her knee.


There’s a trickle of blood run­ning right the way down the front of her leg. Dad’s lick­ing the cor­ner of a nap­kin, bends down and wipes her knee. She must have been kneel­ing on some glass or some­thing.   [Lines cut]

Mum always says you can’t afford to have bare legs after thirty. Mum says he’ll still be hers, what­ever hap­pens. Doesn’t mat­ter how long it is or who he’s with—says she’ll always be his wife and he’ll always be her hus­band. She says there’s hon­our in it. She’s a mug, my mum.

p.140:  Twitch tells Polo about how she found Billy lying at the edge of the sea, pre­sum­ably dead; this is after Billy has made it clear to Twitch that he’s not inter­ested in love.


His eyes are still, in the dark all their colour has gone. The moon reflects in a sin­gle spot in each one, like someone’s frozen stars into the mid­dle of mar­bles. I slide my hand into his palm and it’s cold. [Lines cut] It looks like half his body is danc­ing. I can’t move him, he’s too heavy, it’s like he’s full of sand. I lay my head on his chest and I can hear the stones mov­ing beneath him. I put my ear to his lips but the oly thing mov­ing is the sea.



Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  The play is com­prised of short scenes, usu­ally with two char­ac­ters, so there are a lot of scenes to choose from.

p. 85–87:  Polo and Twitch recount the cir­cum­stances of their birth.  Starts with


They didn’t know that they were in for a duo.

and ends with



p. 90–93:  Polo returns to the island after being away for a year.  Starts with



and ends with


(with aggres­sion). Neon cunt­ing whore!

Silence descends for sev­eral seconds.

Come on! It’s fuck­ing party time!

p.105–108:  Polo and Twitch’s reunion.  Starts with


Hello, Polo.

and ends with


(jolts his head away, they do not touch). Come on!

p.123–126:  Twitch con­fesses to Billy that she loves him.  Starts with


I get very—attached. I have trou­ble— let­ting go.

and ends with


Twitch, I’m leaving.



Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Gard­ner, Lyn. (2010, Fri­day 13). Hot mess. [open access] The Guardian.

Jones, Alice. (2010, August 11). Hot mess, hawke & hunter. [open access] The Inde­pen­dent.

McMil­lan, J. (2010, Aug 28). Review: Hot mess. The Scots­man.

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