Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Hot Brown Honey might just be the controversial hit of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. It is a variety/cabaret hip-hop show, performed and developed by 6 incredibly talented artists and director Lisa Fa’alafi, and their aim is clear – they want to destroy the patriarchy in which we have (not so) passively lived for centuries.
It is time for us to make noise! It is time for us to fight the power! “The Mother” – who comes to us in the guise of a giant technically-infused honeycomb structure – urges us throughout the show to address the ongoing issues of sexism, racism, identity, imperialism and domestic violence. She sends us her “Hot Brown Honeys” – 6 women from the Antipodes who have had enough of being oppressed. The Honeys encourage us (dare I say, inspire us!) to do something to balance out the inequalities that women, people of colour, the LGBTI community and many others encounter in their lives.
The sequence of acts (including dance, circus, burlesque, beatboxing, singing and poetry) are brilliantly constructed and beautifully executed performance pieces that will make you simultaneously cheer with empowerment and cry with sorrow.
The messages are not subtle, and nor should they be, yet it must be stressed that this show is not aggressive. But we can feel the anger intertwined with the humour.
Hailing from Australia, which is in an ultra-conservative political hell at the moment, Hot Brown Honey holds up a mirror to the disgraceful treatment of the traditional owners of the land. It highlights the hypocritical and obnoxious behaviour of some Australians abroad, repeating the mentality (although not the genocide) of 18th Century England’s entitled colonisation. It addresses Australia’s ignorant and entrenched racism. But it doesn’t stop in Australia – many island nations are celebrated and the plight of their indigenous peoples brought to bare, and unfortunately these issues continue to be universal and global.
But the controversy may come (as it has in my own circles) in the bar or foyer after the show. This is a production that makes you feel something – and often will challenge firmly ingrained views of those safely entrenched in our patriarchal and whitewashed society. When women are unashamedly empowered and vocal and celebrate themselves, we are not used to it and it can often be confronting. Good! This is the shake-up that The Mother is asking for.
However, there are some lines that could be argued are crossed by the women. Is it OK to give an audience member a highly sexual lap dance? It is OK to simulate giving a woman an orgasm by putting a microphone between her thighs and entering her personal space? Is it OK to beat an audience member over the head with gigantic inflatable breasts? Is it OK that in all of these examples there was no consent obtained? Are the women themselves becoming the oppressors? I don’t know the answer to these questions.
Hot Brown Honey is an extraordinary political commentary and a fun evening celebrating the talents of strong women. It is an absolute must-see… and don’t go alone! You will be discussing this show with your friends for days.