Review: Hot Brown Honey – Suky Goodfellow

Show: Hot Brown Honey

Venue: Gilded Balloon

Star Rating: *****

Reviewer: Suky Goodfellow

Hot Brown Honey returns to the Edinburgh Fringe for the third year in a row and is every bit deserving of the hype that I’d heard about prior to seeing the show. Successfully combining politics and entertainment, Hot Brown Honey confronts stereotypes surrounding black women through the medium of musical cabaret acts – fan dance, quick change outfits, hula-hooping, and aerial dance, to name a few. It’s a polished, professional production with outstanding performances by all the cast.

Before the show begins, one of the cast is on stage hyping up the audience, and another cast member is out in the audience selling raffle tickets, because ‘the revolution begins with childcare’. Though the venue is a traditional theatre environment, the barrier between audience and stage performer is now broken down. We cannot fool ourselves that the performers exist merely for our entertainment, because we’ve already been introduced to their personal lives by being told that they’re on tour with their children. The hype-woman is meanwhile getting us to participate: to make noise and raise our hands. We are not allowed to be voyeurs or fetishists by the sake of being spectators. There have been some incredibly sexy burlesque performances lately and, frankly, I’ve never been so turned on in a theatre. But it’s the best example of burlesque that is truly feminist that I’ve seen. It’s confident, it’s sexy, it delivers a message.

It’s actually overtly feminist from the start, explicitly stating ‘Fuck the Patriarchy’. Quotes from Angela Davis and Audre Lorde are preached from the pulpit at the top of the hive. It’s refreshing to see a show that directly challenges racism in such an accessible way. Accessible because it’s loud, boisterous, fun and high-energy and tells you exactly what it’s about from the start and throughout.

Half the audience is already giving a standing ovation at the end, before the cast demand everyone stand up. They don’t want your patronage, but your participation in the revolution.

Everyone should see this show. It’s political cabaret for the masses. It has all the fun of light entertainment, but also delivers a strong message. It was entertaining and often funny, but I also came out feeling very emotionally affected.

‘Repetition is the key,’ Hot Brown Honey tells us. This is how stereotypes are built, this is how they must be broken down. I hope Hot Brown Honey continues on at the Fringe until everyone has seen this show.

Go see this show.
Go see this show.
Go see this show.

© Suky Goodfellow

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