Make some noise, the hot brown honeys are here! Five feisty Australasian women of colour who are NOT going to be quiet, but instead are going to take some space for themselves; are going to show us who they are. We’re not witches, they say, but something wicked this way comes…
So stand up and, yeah, make some noise for: Ofa Fotu, Matehaere Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami, Juanita Duncan, Crystal Stacey, and your host/DJ Busty Beatz.
They do their stuff above, in front of, and around a hive – a great, flashing, brightly-lit honeycomb structure with luscious gold and brown cells. And what stuff do they do? Oh my! Busty Beatz is Queen Bee, running the show from on high. She raps, she proclaims, she says ‘fighting the power never tasted so sweet’, she warns ‘DON”T TOUCH MY HAIR’ – cue a sung celebration of the ‘afro’ with a rousing chorus that gets the whole of the audience on to their feet cheering and singing along. There’s soulful singing from Ofa Fotu and beatboxing from Hope One.
There’s a lot of dance – cabaret and burlesque routines that simultaneously exploit and undermine cultural stereotypes. For ‘a stereotype isn’t untrue, it’s just one part of the picture’ says Busty. A fabulous Polynesian / South Pacific parody. A coconuts and grass skirts dance. A wicked illusionist reverse striptease. A rocking romp in black-and-white maids’ outfits – hellzapopin’! And there are Busty’s great big boobies to suffocate you with, as she runs amok in the audience picking her victims with glee (two bald men – one bemused, one gagging for it – and one woman on the night I’m in).
There’s circus too: a pretty good hula hooping number, and Crystal Stacey does one of the best straps routines in this year’s Fringe – a harrowing visual portrayal of domestic abuse.
What it all proves, if you didn’t already know it, is that circus, cabaret and burlesque can be used to create subversive political performance.
The work sits within a framework of contemporary artists across the world who have eschewed the ‘regular’ theatre in favour of occupying other spaces, using popular forms to communicate a challenge to racism, sexism and colonialism. I would place in this frame the work of La Pocha Nostra / Guillermo Gomez Pena (Mexico/USA); Zecora Ura / Jade Persis Maravala (Brazil/UK); Jonathan Grieve and Nwando Ebizie aka Lady Vendredi(UK/Nigeria) amongst others. It’s a world-wide phenomenon, my friends. We’re all Singin and Swingin and Gettin Merry like Christmas…
It is, most definitely, not the time to sit down quietly in the corner and hope everything will improve. Now’s the moment to stand up and show your true colours, to Rock the Boat, Baby – and these five feisty women of colour from the Southern Hemisphere are here to help. All power to them!
A Honeydripper delight of a show, totally Fringe, and totally total theatre to boot! I’m still buzzing…
Hot Brown Honey won the Total Theatre Award 2016 for Innovation, Experimentation and Playing with Form.