Director Lisa Fa’alafi
Reviewer: Matt Forrest
If you fancy something a little different this festive season: a show with plenty of attitude and sass then Hot Brown Honey is the show for you. This is a variety show for the 21st century which attempts to tackle some of the major issues of the day: such as race and inequality head-on.
The host for the evening is MC Busty Beats who acts as our guide through a show that includes, song burlesque, dance spoken word physical and circus performers. There are six Honeys in total, (Busty Beatz, Lisa Fa’alafi, Materharere Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami, Juanita Duncan, Crystal Stacey, and Ofa Fotu) who all bring some very different to the show be it through individual routines or during the ensemble performances.
The opening of the show sets the tone of the evening: with the Honeys emerging from the fantastically constructed beehive set brandishing ostrich feathers and clad in bright yellow outfits that when removed at first real a t-shirt with Oprah Winfrey’s face, then underneath that a frilly maid outfit, women of colour have overcome this outdated stereotype through blood sweat and tears, and through out the show this is constantly reinforced, as the ladies remind us that “we are not a maid”.
Like any cabaret show this has something for everyone, and like most shows some of this nature some of it works and some of it doesn’t: The circus elements by performer Crystal Stacey are fantastic, a routine with Hulu-hoops is good fun, but its her performance on the straps which is truly majestic: the routine represents domestic violence and Stacy’s performance is both tragic and beautiful.
The show’s director Lisa Fa’alafi, performs two dance routines, one a strip tease in reverse where items are added rather than taken away is entertaining and fun, whilst getting its point across, whilst another involving coconuts just doesn’t work and is awkward. A song/dance routine by the entire cast about the ‘pussy’ is somewhat misjudged and uncomfortable.
The musical numbers are entertaining a with a strong satirical message: James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World gets a savaging for its sexist lyrics: other highlights include a unique mashing up of Lionel Ritchie’s Hello, Miss Elliot’s I hate You So Much Right Now and Jay Hawkins I put A Spell on You which is good fun.
The set and lighting are fantastic, brilliant yellow lights create a hive affect, the “hive” is also used to hammer home some of the ideology of the production by flashing them up. There are numerous costumes changes, some of the run smoothly some not so much, but all the costumes look fabulous especially some of the traditional Aboriginal and Māori outfits
Overall this is a brave, and thought-provoking show that pulls no punches addresses issues of feminist discourse, prejudice, inequality, and that all women, have a voice and that voice needs to be heard. As stated some of it works and some of it doesn’t you are never to far away something that will strike a chord.
Throughout the performances and there was constant stream of whopping and cheering, and by the end the audience were up on their dancing: if there shows aim is to educate and entertain then it certainly succeeds on both counts.
Runs until Saturday 23rd December | Image: Dylan Evans