Hot Brown Honey (Black Honey Company)
Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space
March 19 – 28
Often when you see a good show, you leave the theatre thinking how you could easily see it again. Sometimes, when you see a great show, you leave thinking also of everyone you want to bring back to see it again with you. “Hot Brown Honey” is most defiantly a case of the latter. More experience than show, it is an energetic, entertaining and thought-provoking consideration of the legacy of colonialism and the powerful women who are generally forgotten about in politics.
And you don’t get any more powerful than Busty Beatz, the show’s DJ and emcee of sorts. Tracksuit clad and full of fierce attitude, she shows us just how timely this show is, with her inset political observations and comments on social structures and racial injustice. Despite this weighty subject matter, however, the show is jam packed with moments of side-splitting hilarity, culminating in a high-energy explosion of freaky Timmy Trumpet rhythm from a very Busty Beatz.
From the simmering shores of Polynesia to bogan Bali antics, “Hot Brown Honey” smashes stereotypes and mischievously undresses sticky topics, often quite literally, in its many and varied burlesque numbers. Indeed, the show features a range of musical moments, from Taylor Swift to The White Stripes and even a bit of Barbara. And there are a number of quite poignant parts in the show’s second act, including an amazing aria from Heru Pinkasova, showing how Opera Australia’s loss is our gain. A superb aerial performance by Crystal Stacey is also simply stunning: a strong, sensual and utterly moving response to the women of domestic violence who can’t speak for themselves.
“Hot Brown Honey” a difficult-to-define show that is full of surprises, from beyond-belief beat-boxing talent (from Matehaere Hope Haami) to a colossal talking coconut, as it represents a hybrid of diverse artistic forms from some highly talented women. No words can aptly describe how gloriously camp, clever and comic this culmination of dance, hip-hop, opera, burlesque, circus, satire and politics is. The spirit on stage is quite palpable. There is clever use of costume and much energetic movement – so much so that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all at times – but in its tremulous ending, its important message is certainly clear. For, as the song says, ‘It’s a man’s world. But it ain’t nothing without a woman’ and the age of entitlement is over.
The Arts has the capacity to shift culture and we are in a culture that needs change right now. Thankfully there are fearless women like the bold members of Black Honey Company to lead the creative revolution. If only there were more like them, ready to inspirationally survive, thrive and rise. “Hot Brown Honey”… that’s how it’s done people.