No show is a show of brilliance if, from the word go, you are not thinking to yourself “argh! I WISH I told all my girls to come down with me!”
This was “Hot Brown Honey” from the immediate. Southbank’s, Queen Elizabeth Hall was the host to this “spectacular spectacular” and from the moment I entered the foyer, it was clear this troupe had a mood and vibe they wanted to set. Blasting songs from Queens such as Lauryn Hill, Janelle Monae, and TLC to help us all remember our royalty and how involved we needed to be for this show to work.
It was reminiscent of the brilliance of such pieces as “Barbershop Chronicles” and “Blue Man Group” for its ability to immerse the crowd. Also, given that they had a 900+ crowd, that was no mean feat. I was sceptical on how they would pull off making such a huge space feel intimate, but they accomplished it with gravy and that special hot sauce we all keep in our bags (ladies, you know who you be #swag).
Every segment of Hot Brown Honey had meaning and reason. The anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial theme ran straight across from the concept of bashing men with a set of massive boobs (making men rethink the male fantasy of motorboating), to a life-size golliwog teaching us the importance of being a woman and being women of colour in today’s world where it is more likely we allow ourselves to be the domestic help than claim our throne.
A running phrase throughout the evening was “You are not the maid”, and I felt this literally for all sisters, not only from colonised backgrounds running to the proverbial west and allowing ourselves to become indentured slaves so as to make a better life but what all women do naturally – taking care of men and giving so much of ourselves to the usually ungrateful and unworthy.
Creators Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz’s visionary show empowers using innovative ways of bringing the truth, from burlesque to telling stories of their ancestors through segments such as a multi-tribal Hakka, brilliantly highlighting variations and similarities between Polynesian, Tonga, Maori, African and Australian culture.
Hot Brown Honey goes further than that though, it highlights what makes us all one. Unapologetic about its fierceness, from its messages about not touching our hair (through a fantastic and, rightly fitting, death metal segment), the ridiculousness of cultural appropriation and white privilege (using hoops) freeing oneself from the oppression of not only the coloniser (in a fantastic contemporary dance /escapism piece) but also freedom from abuse in a relationship (in one of the stand-out pieces of the night; an emotionally tasking aerial piece performed by Crystal Stacey which had the audience all on the edge of our seats with tears in our eyes for the struggle and strength of woman).
Hot Brown Honey runs at the Southbank Centre until Saturday 28th July! Book tickets quickly here.