In 2008 Ella Hickson burst on to the Edinburgh Festival scene with Eight, a play she wrote and directed at the tail end of her final year studying at Edinburgh University. Debuting in the perhaps less-than-fashionable venue of the University's own Bedlam Theatre, this series of monologues would go on to win a Fringe First and enjoy successful transfers to New York and London. Hickson's age at the time, 23, surely helped convince people they had a singular talent on their hands.
The result, though, is that the "Hot Young Thing" label has stuck to her for the last two years. It's not so much that there are those out there waiting for her to come a cropper – more that the expectation is that everything she writes will be excellent. Last Festival's Precious Little Talent received largely glowing reviews, and the pressure now carries over to this year's Hot Mess – a site-specific piece in the city's plush Hawke + Hunter nightclub – to make it three in a row.
"It's about two twins... One is born with a heart and one without," says Hickson. "I've been relatively lucky, actually," she continues, "that I've still not had a total flop yet, so I've still got that round the corner at some point."
'Hot Mess' is at Hawke + Hunter until 30 August