Hot Brown Honey is NOISY! It is a loud, defiant declaration of female power and a passionate call to arms. But this is not to suggest that it is preachy. It is, in fact, a hugely entertaining cabaret show in which six Australian women exhibit their extraordinary talents – and it is as celebratory as it is polemical.
The Hot Brown Honey experience comprises an eclectic mix of poetry, dance, song, beat boxing and circus skills – all of an exceptional standard and each deployed as a challenge to sexist or racial stereotypes. Maid costumes, a reverse striptease parody of a tropical island fantasy, lesbian beat boxing, a stunning rendition of ‘It’s a Man’s World’ and some breath-taking hula-hooping and acrobatics – this is a show which is constantly surprising. I would have loved to be a fly-on-the-wall during the devising process – it must have been a riot.
What this show isn’t, is subtle. Quite aside from the pussy-grabbing choreography and the balloon-breasted cleavage-bashing challenge, the lighting design (a wonderful fluorescent ‘hive’ which flashes and transforms thoughout) must drain the entire National Grid on each performance. And while I recoil a little from the sensory assault of it all, I am also aware that this is entirely appropriate to an uncompromising show intent upon challenging the audience to its core. Hot Brown Honey is not trying to encourage or give space for reflection and debate, but rather to utterly subvert the patriarchal world view and to urge action. Subtlety is not the path to revolution.
Nevertheless, I can’t help feeling a little brow-beaten, and (perhaps churlishly) resistant to the show’s reliance on sensory overload and whipping up the audience into a crowd-response. I am reminded, however, that one of the stated purposes of the show is to get women (and men) to reject the silent subjugation of inequality and to ‘make a noise’ – and I can’t argue with that! Indeed, as more revelations emerge around Harvey Weinstein and we sense the beginnings of a cultural shift, it feels like Hot Brown Honey is out there cheerleading. So, in the end, I join everyone else on their feet and whoop with the rest of them.
Hot Brown Honey is on at HOME until December 23rd https://homemcr.org/production/hot-brown-honey/