Sunday, October 1, 2017

HOT BROWN HONEY OZASIA FESTIVAL



Hot Brown Honey. 

Briefs factory. The Space Theatre. OzAsia Festival Adelaide Festival Centre. September 30. 2017

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The cast of Hot Brown Honey. Photo by Dylan Evans

I first saw Hot Brown Honey at the Royal Croquet Club during the 2015 Adelaide Fringe. After admiring the sheer verve and forceful vivacity of the performers and their dedication to their strong social commentary, this is how I concluded the review.
“Hot Brown Honey has the potential to be a first class act. A firm directorial vision, and dedicated practice to thread together the serious commentary of the women’s stories would make this a show not to be missed. Its message is too important to be cast so carelessly aside; the talents of the performers too precious to be given such short thrift and disregard. Only then will an audience fully savour the real power of the art and the message of Hot Brown Honey. “

But that was then. And this is now. And WOW!!! Just look at these powerhouse women from the South Pacific seas. I am reminded of Kevin Carmody’s From Little Things Bog Things Grow” Here is a show that is loud and proud, slick, sassy, sexy and smart.  Six strong, independent and powerful performers sing their songs of praise for feminism and condemnation of sexism. Expressive, expansive and effervescent, their performances act as a salute to their sex on a huge hive, flashing with lights and technical wizardry. After warming up their audience with tantalizing expectation and a raffle sale to afford their childcare the show begins and the Royal Croquet Club seems a world away. The show has morphed into a brilliantly costumed, sharply choreographed and massively confident assertion of their tribe.
Too long the drones of a male dominated society, each and every one is now the queen bee of the social hive, buzzing with the song of revolution and making noise. One of the performers stands high above the  luminescent hive, inciting the audience to echo the cry for independence. “When I say Love, you say Respect.” Love!...Respect!!! The chants are magnetic, charismatic and passionate in their recognition of rebellion and change.
The acts are familiar, but masterly executed with relishing pride and power. A sunflower strip peels away the layers from their brown bee hive patterned costumes to reveal at the final layer a maid’s costume. “You are not the Maid!!” their queen bee cries. Satire sweeps its cutting scythe through the show, slicing away at assumption and oppression. A Pacific Islander transforms the shell to rise Botticelli like and adorned in her dance of transformation. Circus acts become symbols of freeing oneself from entrapment and untruthful stereotype, such as the hula hoop sequence, the , the microphone breath popping assault on subjugation, the aerial struggle to be released from the customs that bind women to their roles. It is moments like these and the dynamically voiced and exuberantly  danced routines that boldly pronounce the spirit of empowerment.
In the tradition of Greek theatre, release from bondage is celebrated with an audience clapping and cheering on their feet and enthusiastically embracing the invitation to join the women in dance upon the Space Theatre stage.  Catharsis is complete and a battle begun will surely be a battle won. The sweet taste of nectar of the Gods excites the palate of change, brought about not only by this exhilarating show, but also by the artists behind the scenes who saw the potential at the show’s raw beginnings and guided it to its undisputed triumph and resonating call for equality and freedom.
If you happen to have Hot Brown Honey visit your city or return for an encore, don’t miss it.

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