Oct 28, 2023

Review of Skin Hunger

Skin Hunger 27 October

Tatiana Hotere

Toitoi, Functions on Hastings as part of Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival

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, a widowed mother of two, Brazilian import, Eva, 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.

Join Us