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.