Hot Brown Honey (Briefs Factory/Black Honey Company)
Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space
September 16 – 26
Culture doesn’t just have to be of the heightened type that occurs only in flagship venues. And “Hot Brown Honey” is evidence of this as, preshow, the Judith Wright Centre is a hive activity (#punintended) as the Hot Brown Honeys mingle amongst the audience. The anticipation is only sweetened upon entry into the theatre space and introduction to the visually dominant honeycomb-esque mountain from atop which a loud and proud Busty Beatz begins the high energy showcase of female talent. And what a range of talent it includes, with dancers, vocalists and even a beatboxer appearing as part of the show’s appealing eclecticism, harmonising perfectly despite their distinct individual styles.
For the uninitiated, Hot Brown Honey is a collective of talented beauties of all shapes and sizes, united in quest to pack a sweet punch of hip-hop politics by smashing stereotypes and exploring sticky topics. In doing so they present strength of conviction, voice and determination in shows that seem only to go from strength to glorious strength as examples of entertainment by the people for the people.
Those who have experience of their most recent Judy outing can be reassured by presence of previous crowd favourites, bogan Aussie girl in Bali (Crystal Stacey) and Polynesian basket weaver (Lisa Fa’alafi), as well as the Seymour-like finale coconut (whose favourite snack is prejudice).
Joining them are new and equally memorable moments of impressive physicality and creative invention such as outrageous parody of Iggy Azalea and Nicki Mina, and tribute to an “Eat Pray Love” yoga devotees from special guest Sammy Willians.
And there is real highlight in appearance of Miss Bogan Villea (special guest Benjamin Graetz, last seen with the Honeys at ”지하 Underground”, (Uplate) at 2014’s WTF Festival) for a couple of unapologetically-ocker Acca Dacca and Midnight Oil numbers to have Thunderstruck audience members clapping and whooping along.
The show is not all irreverence though, including comment on a number of political issues related to nationalism, colonialisation and empowerment. Indeed, the inclusion of its domestic violence number during which Crystal Stacey performs a series of stunning aerial circus moves, elevates the significance of its themes to a new level of (unfortunate) topical appreciation. The addition of the song ‘Where are you from?’ provides one of the other most overt instances, but this is tempered by the cohesion of transformation from, for example, contemporary to indigenous dance within one of the opening numbers.
“Hot Brown Honey” is a show of contrasts and with its pulsating musical score (thanks to the wonderful reinvention and rearrangement of many contemporary pop classics), it offers plenty of bombastic moments of pure entertainment. With the help of some luscious lighting and the cleverest of costumes as layer upon layer is often shed to unfold entirely new outfits, each more elaborately realised than the last, the hyper-reality of its segments becomes infectious because never has fighting the power tasted so sweet. There is also chance that you may even be lucky enough to feature in the always light-hearted interactive segment that see audience members’ getting up close and personal with a particularly Busty Beatz.
“Hot Brown Honey” is a heightened experience on a grand scale, making it a hyperbolically great show that will leave you raving to others in exhilaration of its fierce performances, powerful messages and celebratory feel. More than just a fun night out, it includes piercing social commentary of things that should and do matter, which makes it perfect for curation within a festival program.
Photos c/o – Dylan Evans