Hot Brown Honey is a high-energy, ‘fuck the patriarchy’ exploration of everyday racism and sexism which promises to ‘tease and interrogate all your views’. In this aim, it does not disappoint - with a slick-as soundtrack, high energy performances and unashamed queer feminist delight. It celebrates the individual talents of each cast member, as well as their ability to come together and perform exceptional feats of choreography.
The audience went wild for this show, and so will you!
Utilising the mechanisms of cabaret, hip hop, polynesian burlesque, hula-hooping and aerial dance to a backdrop of high energy thumping beats, this unapologetic refusal to stay silent about all that’s wrong in society is subversive, impressive and informative. The highlight of the show for me is a fast-paced, spellbinding aerial silk performance which conveys the devastation of sexual assault, but also the hope of surviving and recreating yourself. Taking heed from the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sampled in the show, Hot Brown Honey refuses to believe in or stick to inevitabilities and singular narrative.
I have a few reservations about the show, one of them being that the show is delivered almost identically to what it was last year. Some of the same acts, the same messages and even the ongoing mantra ‘moisturise and decolonise’, was echoed throughout last year’s performance. This show is so clever and so packed full of in-your-face, political narrative - and that narrative, in the context of ever-changing society, changes from year to year. The issues the performance showcases are still issues today, yet our approach as a society to the subject of consent has moved significantly since last year. Yet, in an identical manner to last year’s show, Busty Beatz winds through the audience brandishing massive inflatable boobs and trapping people’s heads in them. I appreciate this may have been trying to make a statement about reversing the sexual power women have in society - but in a society where consent is absolute for all genders, this jarred. These aspects of the performance just felt lazy to me, and I know this show is capable of more.
I was also unsure that Busty Beatz’ flash of breasts at the end of the show made any statement about female empowerment, and rather I was just left wondering why. Are we perpetuating something we’ve spent the rest of the show fighting against - the sexualisation and fetishisation of black women? And although the narrative alluded throughout the performance to the gender binary being irrelevant in today’s society, there was still a reductive element to the show which celebrated ‘the power of the pussy’, which is distinct in its binary gendering. Not all women have ‘pussies', and not all people with ‘pussies' are women. I feel that a show fighting against the confines of stereotypes and societal constructs has to tighten up its consistency in messaging.
This is still a fantastic, gratuitous celebration of difference, with a nod to a heteronormative patriarchy and hierarchical systems of power built on colonisation and theft. Even if you don’t care about these things before you go in, you’ll enjoy the astoundingly talented performances - and by the end, you will be questioning at least some of your value systems. The audience went wild for this show, and so will you!