It’s a man’s world – we are reminded by the divine opening number for the suave burlesque cabaret show Hot Brown Honey, but as the highbrow blend of dance, poetry, circus and striptease really gets going under the political hip-hop guidance of queen-of-cool emcee Busty Beatz, we’re very quickly consumed by a world that is shaped by all shades of lady, and rest assured that doesn’t mean lady-like.
Creators (and immensely entertaining performers) Lisa Fa’alafi, Candy B, and Busty Beatz have concocted a super slick show that comes together seemingly effortlessly and allows the audience to easily swing from the hilarity of Fa’alafi emerging from a giant talking coconut to the poignant aerial number by Crystal Stacey – aerial ribbon dancing has never been so powerful. The show is all about playing with diversity and discrimination; not just between all genders and race but between generations as well. The latter is wonderfully demonstrated by Fa’alafi in an exotic island girl number where she contemporises the old stereotype of the sweet-island native girl in a fashion show style dance, sporting a brilliantly clever costume made entirely from leaves.
I need to mention it, but I’m not sure how to describe Busty’s half-time act other than to mention how impressive it is for an intermission act to be created just so that excited audience members can take a selfie with her enormous boobs (which featured heavily as the lead in the previous performance). I’ll leave the rest to your imagination but it still will not be as great as the real thing.
Cabaret often delivers some stellar performances mixed-in with some average ones but not here – every number in Hot Brown Honey is highly developed and stand-alone in its integrity. It really is impossible to list all the brilliant moments in this show from an adidas track-suit striptease (by Beatz) to the depressingly spot-on showcase of Aussie bogans-at-play in Bali to the Mammy-faced masks of “The Help” seemingly stepping right out of Bugs Bunny’s less-than-savoury history and then a show-stopping aria from Heru Pinkasova left the audience in silent awe. The surprise highlight of the show however surely had to be the unbelievable beat-boxing from Hope Haami who quietly bided her time under the thumb of Busty Beatz until she had a chance to switch it on, and switch it on she did with such a brilliant performance it seemed like the finale.
I have no doubt that some hidden little gems and cultural reflections with-in the shows crafty political undercurrent will fly over some heads but that’s ok because the message about inequalities (which we are all ashamedly admit still exist today), are nicely balanced with brilliant performances that will have everyone’s mind buzzing one way or another. Hot Brown Honey screams for multiple viewings and I hope it comes around again – soon.