Sitting high above the crowd, atop her glorious hive at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, is emcee for the evening Busty Beatz. The Queen Bee of Hot Brown Honey, Beatz is definitely in the driver’s seat this evening and she is ready to take the rest of us on a ride, so be sure to buckle up because things going to go fast and get wild!
I went into this production knowing what it was all about, but not ready for the impact it would have on my spirit. I know that sounds like hyperbole at its best, but literally everything about this show is made to make people feel something – emotionally, mentally, and yes, physically. It is joyous. It is empowering. It is enlightening. It is work that is meant to create change, so my suggestion is to take everything you know about political theatre, cabaret, and hip hop and throw it away because Hot Brown Honey is going to rip it apart and recreate anyways.
Co-created by Lisa Fa’alafi and Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers, Hot Brown Honey features a cast of 6 powerful women with diverse backgrounds including Maori, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander, Samoan, Tongan, Indonesian and South African heritage. Lisa Fa’alafi, the Game Changer, Ofa Fotu as The Myth Slayer, Hope Haami as Hope One The Beatboxer, Ghenoa Gela as The Truth Sayer, Crystal Stacey as The Peace Maker, and of course, Busty Beatz as The Queen Bee do not mince words. Much of the show is rooted in the colonial injustices of Australia, but it doesn’t take much imagination to connect these issues to ones faced right here in Canada. Throw in a healthy dose of criticism for the global patriarchy, a variety of cabaret style acts, including burlesque, singing, comedic interludes, beat-boxing, spoken word, and circus arts and you have one revolutionary show.
Packing so much political commentary and criticism into one show could certainly backfire if not executed well. Not to worry, these women are are highly skilled executioners and their blades are as sharp as their wit. Fa’alafi smashes the stereotype of the “island girl” through one of the most unique burlesque performances I have ever experienced. The costuming is brilliant. Stacey’s beautiful aerial straps act thrashes through a gut-wrenching story of sexual assault. Her movements are dynamic and breath-taking, loose and flowing, demonstrating both her strength and vulnerability. Hope Haami has everyone out of their seats with her out-of-this world beat-boxing abilities. I really did mean it when I said that this is a show that makes you FEEL things.
If Hot Brown Honey could bottle up all of their sticky sweet goodness and sell it on grocery store shelves, I truly believe that the world would be better off for it and I doubt anyone that has experienced the unapologetic ferocity presented on their stage would dare disagree. Please do yourself a favour and go see this show if you have the opportunity, but be prepared – your face will hurt from smiling, you throat will be hoarse from screaming, your hands will be sore from clapping, and your mind will be completely blown by the time you leave the theatre.