“We are taught that silence will save us, but we will make noise.”
The honeys are HOME for the Christmas period, offering magical realism in a show that converts anger into art. The 75-minute production merges traditional variety performances, including comedy, acrobatics and music in a subversive take on female stereotypes.
This show does not allow you to be a spectator. It forces you to your feet and will have you thinking critically about the male gaze and the expectations it puts on women. When you first enter the theatre, the glow from the honeycomb hive is enticing. The women have created a collective colony that captures conventional thinking and critiques it in traditional routines.
The pre-show playlist is back to back R&B/Hip-Hop tracks that are designed to get you in the party mood. Members of the Hot Brown Honey group were also buzzing amongst the audience, intermingling and selling raffle tickets. The raffle winners were ultimately too nervous to pick up their unknown prize, and it took three attempts before a random audience member was selected to drink milk from a Honey’s coconut bra.
The show itself expands on light entertainment to offer its audience a new experience of prioritising women of colour in a celebration of identity and female empowerment. With backgrounds reaching from Aboriginal Australian, Samoan, Tongan, Māori, Indonesian and South African, the team confront prejudice through their satire. One surprising act was a performance of ‘Don’t touch my hair’ that ranged from a polite solo request into a heavy metal, headbanging, group assault at its audience.
The sampling of various feminist authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie were pocketed between performances to offer the audience a miniature TED talk that blanketed the Honeys perspectives with words from other strong women authors.
The conversation about choice in terms of feminism and nudity are still in dispute. Here sexually charged clips that are associated with hip-hop and island girls are reversed in an impressive take that exposed Lisa Fa'alafi in a reverse strip tease and reworks burlesque into a liberation from submission. The Honeys pick and choose who wishes to bare all and nudity is purposeful as opposed to simply objectifying.
Most notable was the final performance by the gifted Crystal Stacey as her areal act played a beautiful and harrowing message surrounding domestic violence. Hot Brown Honey encourages women to speak out, stand up and be aware of their own privilege. Its refashioned variety show is an impressive production that is impactful in its visuals, music and messaging.