Skin Hunger - Solo
27/10/2023 - 27/10/2023
07/11/2023 - 11/11/2023
Written and performed by Tatiana Hotere
Hot Houz Creative presents
Prepare to laugh and cry in this brilliant and utterly compelling theatre piece written and performed by Tatiana Hotere, winner of several 2022 Auckland Fringe awards including Outstanding Performance.
After the death of her husband, grief- stricken Eva – a perimenopausal woman of faith – embarks on a journey of self-discovery, spiritual awakening and sexual empowerment. Amidst a deluge of tragic tinder dates, self-doubt and Catholic guilt, she finds the courage to forge a new path for her life in the chaotic aftermath. Eva discovers there is always life after death.
Raw, passionate, sexy and heartbreakingly funny, Skin Hunger explores the intersection of grief, faith and sexuality in a brave and sensitive way. This show is for anyone who’s ever lost someone, and had to find themselves (and perhaps their clitoris) again.
After two sell out seasons at Auckland Fringe 2022 and Summer of Q 2023, this award-winning show will make you laugh out loud, and also move you to tears.
“Do yourself a favour and go see this. Watch it if you’ve ever lost someone you’ve loved, watch it if you’ve ever been horny. Watch it if you own a dildo, watch it if you don’t, watch it if you have Catholic guilt or really any kind of guilt. Watch it if you want to be moved.” Renee Liang – RNZ
2022 Auckland Fringe:
Outstanding Theatre Performance + Outstanding Writer: Tatiana Hotere
Outstanding Director: Romy Hooper
Pannz Pitching Auckland Fringe Awards
Toitoi, Functions on Hastings 27/10/2023
Theatre , Solo ,
‘Skin Hunger-Solo’, seen through a new lens, should be on your ‘must-see’ list. It's great work!
Review by Lexie Matheson 09th Nov 2023
I’ve experienced ‘Skin Hunger’ twice before. My last review can be found here: SKIN HUNGER – Theatreview/
Then, the show had a larger cast, now it’s a solo work. I call it ‘Skin Hunger – Solo’.
The original has been around the block, toured, evolved, changed lives, educated, titillated, provided work for actors and crew, been therapeutic, and, of course, entertained. There’s a good chance that, being a discerning theatre goer, you think you’ve already seen it and had your withers wrung (in a good way).
You may ask yourself, as I’m ashamed to admit I did, that, excellent though it was the first time around, do I really want another dose of ‘grief makes you horny’ and all its accoutrements when the heartache of Gaza and the Ukraine and all the killing of kids is making me want anything but?
Turns out it was exactly what I wanted – and needed – even though I questioned this at the time.
My ‘plus one’ had been to a meeting or some such dullary and hadn’t come with me the first time so she was keen. My son, age 21 had come with me the first time, and jumped at the chance to see it again.
So, decision made, we’re off to Q Loft.
Q Loft is my favourite small theatre since the demise of the Maidment Studio, and Tatiana Hotere is one of my absolute favourite actors currently working. She’s also one of my favourite writers, directors, producers, marketers, gracious hosts etc which leads me to this: if any production has earned arts funding, it’s ‘Skin Hunger’, and if any artist deserves full support, it’s Hotere.
Her potential, like her talent, is infinite.
So, come on funders, do your job!
Right from the lowering of the house lights it’s clear that this show has evolved. The set is different – the same, but different – and Hotere is gentler, engages more personally with her audience, welcomes us in, and we go willingly. Speeches about happiness and mental health hit home. Hotere is more available, more vulnerable tonight, than I’ve ever seen her before.
I am aware that there have been cruel, negative comments from fundamentalist evangelicals who see ‘Skin Hunger’ as an attack on Christianity, an attack that’s buried somewhere deep in all the eclectic talk of sex, the church, and finding oneself, an attack that is, in my view, completely without substance. Hotere’s experiences with Roman Catholicism in her home country mirror those of countless young women the world over and are handled truthfully, and with almost tender affection.
Clever Hotere though, she leaves any judgement of the clerical behaviour she speaks of, to us.
There is judicious trimming of the male characters from the earlier production which makes for a better balance but with no loss of the earthy bloke comedy embedded in the work. We understand without ponging it, where she went to seek solace, and this new subtlety is more than welcome. ‘Swiping right’ remains hilarious and the use of props to determine any future paramour – or six if possible – is truly funny.
Hotere really hits her straps when playing both herself and a drunken friend, and her use of vocal signals, body language, and visual triggers to isolate the two characters is not only very smart it’s also beautifully realised. Similarly, the relationship with her ultra-conservative, almost prudish, sister is enacted, this time, through phone calls and voice-over which result in our feeling quite conflicted – we disapprove of the sister’s interfering, but we like her too, and for the very same reasons.
There’s also a more tangible focus on growth and change and these qualities, embedded early, are more often than not delivered with wit and gentle humour – the feeling of being ‘happy sad’, discovering that first grey hair, the excitement of good sex after a long wait, and the feeling that you’re cheating on your ex simply because what you’re doing is new and different.
Structurally, the text is richer, more subtle, going for ‘piccoli orgasmi multipli’ rather than the ‘starnuto grande’ of the original. Not to deride ‘the big sneeze’ but in this work ’many small sneezes’ opens us up and prepares us best for the restorative denouement that subsequently satisfies us most.
I suspect Hotere’s newly crafted lens on her autobiographical piece reflects well on the work she has done on herself to reach where she is today. It can’t be easy, having chosen a cathartic way to come to terms with a tragedy of the magnitude of losing your husband, to then have to live with the minutiae of it every day while crafting the text, then again in rehearsal, and ultimately, again, in performance in front of people you don’t even know every night for months, and maybe years, and to know it’s all your own choice. It takes courage in a rainbow of hues to adopt this approach and Hotere has that sort of courage by the palette full.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Beethoven’s ‘Fifth’ or Handel’s ‘Messiah’, this is a chamber work, intimate, up close, probing, and revealing. More Bartok than Stravinsky, more Ibsen than Shakespeare, more Vermeer than Michelangelo, more to my taste than not. ‘Skin Hunger’ has lost nothing and gained much in it’s reworking. Rather like a master work which, when x-rayed, shows the painter’s earlier dabbling, the roadmap to excellence, an excellence which has been achieved later – and for ‘Skin Hunger’ that later is now.
I’ve purposely left the best until last.
An event in 2019, which I won’t elaborate on, has provided Hotere with her final metaphor and the inspiration we all need to move past the grief she’s shared with us, a grief that we now share with her, without in any way hiding from it or proclaiming some false closure. It’s profound, and magnificent, in the way if pulls all the threads together and has them spell ‘hope’.
There were tears in the dark (me) and tears in the foyer (my plus one).
One the way home my wonderful son exercised his Aspergers and jumped track from ‘Skin Hunger’ to anime and the zombie apocalypse. He knew exactly what he was doing, and why.
I can’t help but think the late Mr Hotere, from what I’ve learned of him, would have totally approved.
Please put ‘Skin Hunger -Solo’ on your ‘must-see’ list even if you think you’ve seen it before.
You haven’t, ‘Skin Hunger – Solo’ is a different show, and one you should see.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
A captivating show of contrasts ... sadness to laughter ... grief to desire ...
Review by Rosheen Fitzgerald 28th Oct 2023
Grief and libido are not topics generally lumped together. Yet these are the reasons a throng of women, and a few good sport male companions, have gathered in Toitoi’s function room, on this day transformed into a stage with tiered seating.
Tatiana Hotere, the star of this intense, autobiographical, hour-and-change long one woman show, ambles onto the stage in her underwear, caught on the hop by the full audience that make up the invisible fourth wall of her living room. She’s been summoned by insistent doorbell ringing, heralding the delivery of a bewildering number of dildos.
In her forties, Eva, a widowed mother of two, Brazilian import, wrestles with life after death, and her hungry skin that finds itself at odds with her Catholic guilt. In a powerful performance, Hotere grapples with both mourning and desire, eliciting tears of laughter and sadness, captivating the audience she addresses directly.
Though she performs solo, she voices, nay transforms, into the characters that populate her life. The shape of her shoulders, the tone of her voice, change completely when she apes her dead husband, as though she can become him from the depth of her knowing him.
The Madonna/whore dichotomy is illustrated on one hand by her impression of bawdy friend, Lorraine, who gets her on the apps and orders her sex toys, and by her sister, Julia. The latter speaks in Portuguese, in off stage voiceover, repeating the church’s party line down the phone. Eva always responds in English, illustrating the widening gulf between the two sisters’ perspectives.
Each dildo is held up in turn like a puppet illustrating the litany of bad Tinder dates she must endure before meeting the elusive Mr 12, a man who leaves her with three orgasms and chlamydia. Her doctor, who shames her then breaks confidentiality to gossip about her to the other women of the church, is played by a pink string of anal beads.
This is a show of contrasts. From the yoga mat to downing five tequila shots and sleeping with the barman. From a genuine expression of faith to raging against divine injustice. From sadness to laughter. From grief to desire.
In reconciling her religion, in which she still believes despite its patriarchal repression, with a rejection of shame and an acceptance of grief, Hotere manages to encapsulate the spectrum of human experience with an endearing honesty. Life does not neatly keep to one genre. It is as messy as it is beautiful. And just one thing is certain – that we are all going to die. But until we do, we live.
[ Note: This is a solo version of the multi-cast Skin Hunger that premiered in Auckland earlier this year. – ed]
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer