Hot Brown Honey

Fighting the patriarchy has never been so much fun!
Hot Brown Honey

Image by Dylan Evans

Hot Brown Honey are back at the Sydney Opera House with their multi-award winning show which combines beatboxing, rap, burlesque, soul, circus, and dance. If you missed their sell-out season at the Sydney Opera House in 2016,  here is your chance to catch a return season of the production which has now won the award for Innovation, Experimentation and Playing with Form in the Total Theatre Awards for the company’s season in the Edinburgh Festival; and the awards for Best Production and Best Design in the Green Room Awards in Melbourne.

This show showcases six of the most exciting performers in Australia; all of them women and First Nations artists. The show is full of radical politics; it's raucous, in your face, sexy, and funny. It  makes black feminism fun, splicing quotes from Angela Davis and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with rap, beatboxing and burlesque.

The performers are all stunning.

The wonderful rapper and sound designer, South African born Busty Beatz, acts as a kind of rapping compere or ringmaster for the show. She is electric and funny – full of energy and bite. A personal favourite number of hers, for which she wore the most enormous afro wig, was ‘NO! NO! NO! Do not touch my hair’ which turned into a hysterically funny, anthemic chorus sung by the combined cast.

The amazing Lisa Fa’alafi, a dancer of Polynesian heritage, did some stunning burlesque numbers including an eye-popping reverse striptease that sent up the racist and sexist gaze with its constant, funny, subversion of expectations.

Ota Fotu’s powerful soul voice and metal guitar is a real highlight and strength in the show. Her song, blending Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ with Nina Simone’s classic ‘I Put a Spell on You’ was mesmerising. To watch her morph from her innocent, eyelash-batting girl singing ‘Hello,’ into her voodoo priestess singing, ‘I put a spell on you’ was compulsive viewing and totally hypnotising.

The two circus acts performed by Crystal Stacy were both great character-driven circus. The first showed a drunken Australian tourist, complete with blond dreads, as she hula-hoops in Bali. The act was hard-hitting, looking long and hard at her cultural insensitivity to the country she was visiting. The straps acts, which started with a scream, showed the physical desperation of a woman in the midst of domestic violence, and was edgy and unsettling.

Mateheare Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami, a Maori beatboxer, brought amazing percussive beats to the show. Her strong physicality and rhythmic beatboxing gave an added vigour and presence to all the dance and music sections.

Ghenoa Gela, a Torres Strait Islander performer, appeared enrobed and encased in the Australian flag, struggling to free herself from the garment’s restrictive corsets and long skirt. Her physicality was extraordinary and the image was profoundly moving.

The combination of all these artists together is not to be missed.  

Hot Brown Honey are funny, thought-provoking and fun. The crowd was laughing and shouting throughout, and by the end everybody was on their feet with audience members on stage dancing with the cast members.

5 out of 5 stars

Hot Brown Honey
Busty Beatz
Lisa Fa’alafi
Ota Fotu
Mateheare Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami
Crystal Stacey
Ghenoa Gela

The Studio, Sydney Opera House
7 June – 2 July 2017

Katie Lavers

Monday 12 June, 2017

About the author

Dr. Katie Lavers is a writer, director, producer and researcher based in Sydney.