Hot Brown Honey will make you gasp, laugh, cheer, scream, and think. Intertwining song, dance, and circus, with politics, feminism, and comedy, the show is absolutely galvanising. Featuring a cast comprised of Australian Indigenous, Polynesian, and South African women, the show doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. In fact the comedy is used as a perfect vehicle for gut-wrenchingly visceral explorations of domestic violence, sexism, and the lingering effects of colonisation.
The show was delivered with an air of abandon, but don’t think the planning for this show wasn’t pedantic. Combining hip hop with cabaret, the casts’ opening dance number saw honeycomb-patterned tracksuits disappear to reveal layer after layer of costume, each (literal and figurative) layer of imagery heavy with intent and meaning. The costume tunnel ended in traditional maid outfits, as narrator/emcee Busty Beatz bellowed ‘you are not the maid’ from above– dismissing gender roles in the home as well as representations of coloured characters in the media.
The costume changes were approaching magic in their ingenuity, and the musical mashups were brilliant — think a nod to Erykah Badu morphing into a heavy metal rendition of Solange’s Don’t Touch My Hair. In fact, the show was littered with references to strong female artists and activists, including Audre Lorde and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Each act featured some kind of inversion. Mostly of stereotypes, sometimes of bodies. The numbers included an island girl skit with a surprise ending (I won’t spoil it for you) and a powerful dance performance combining indigenous dance and krumping, with a risque beatboxing interlude. An ‘Australian in Bali’ hoop routine was neatly tied back to the idea of appropriate behaviour in a country other than your own (cough cough colonialism). There was also a raffle, with proceeds going towards the child care costs of the performers with children. I won’t tell you what the prize is, but I recommend buying a ticket. Even if you don’t win, the revolution can’t happen without childcare.
Hot Brown Honey promises to tease you into interrogating your assumptions, and it will. Underneath all the laughter is a very real, very raw message which needs to be heard, and the honeys give everything they’ve got to make sure it is.
Liv S. is a creature of warm weather and negronis. Her interests include honeys, trying new things, and triple utterances. Follow her frolics on @callmememphisjones.