Hot Brown Honey (4 stars)

This article is from 2016

Hot Brown Honey

History is stripped to reveal inequalities

Hot Brown Honey is explicit in its intentions – to attack patriarchy. Using hip hop culture, burlesque and cabaret, it contains intelligent parodies of stereotypes, astonishing aerial, reconditioned pop songs and a burst of feminist rage. Yet despite the brilliance of the cast, and the high energy soundtrack, it sometimes stumbles in the space between ideas and execution.

There are moments in which form and content are a perfect match: an aerial routine nails the sexualisation of violence against women, and a reverse striptease mocks fantasies of naive virgins. Unfortunately, the flow of MC Busty Beatz is often lost amidst the noise and her commentary on the routines, while trenchant, is reduced to sloganeering. When this expresses pure rage – as in the extended warning against touching her hair – it is effective, but more thoughtful reflections disappear into the tumult.

By identifying with First Nation political resistance, the show gains an intersectional bite: racism and sexism are castigated, and stereotypes are assaulted. Whether this entirely comes across in the hula hoop routine is debatable, as the stereotype of the dizzy blonde tourist becomes the only representation of the oppressive class and plays into a few sexual fantasies itself.

There are subtle nuances in the show's politics that deserve further discussion: larger questions about patriarchy battle against specific injustices. This is where the show stumbles: the showmanship leaves little space for the serious issues to hit home as more than a series of singular points.

The relentless energy of the show hides a loose structure: the movement between ideas is frequently arbitrary and powerful images are often undeveloped in the rush. The balance between pride and outrage is carefully considered, never allowing anger to undermine the feel good atmosphere. The political messages, however, are present, and work with the party vibes to hit home and begin what is an important and complicated battle against the hidden hegemonies of oppression and repression.

Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug, 8.20pm, £15–£16 (£14–£15).

Hot Brown Honey

  • 4 stars

Briefs Factory Packing a potent punch of hip hop politics, Hot Brown Honey serves up dance, poetry, comedy, circus, striptease and song. From the team who bought you Fringe hit Briefs. The hive has arrived. Hot Brown Honey are here in an explosion of colour, culture and controversy. Fighting the power never tasted so…