Hot Brown Honey review at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh – ‘aggressive burlesque’
Make no mistake, Hot Brown Honey is an angry show. That anger manifests itself in the thud of the hip-hop score, the insistent rant of DJ Busty Beatz and the aggression that permeates practically every dance number. In the stream of belligerent tub-thumping, the company nails its manifesto to the hive calling for an end to both violence and patriarchy. The dilemma is that anger, both sexual and verbal, saturates this production like no other.
The burlesque scenes start promisingly enough, with clever quick-fire costume changes that culminate in a valid visual statement aimed at exploding cultural expectations. The rest of the show simple doesn't live up to this bold, opening statement. Soul-singer Ofa Fotu and beatboxer Hope “Hope One” Haami complement the strident soundtrack, but the rest is fairly unexceptional burlesque including fan dancing, hula-hoops and an aerialist for good measure.
Empowerment is the undercurrent in most modern burlesque performances – male and female – but here the practically relentless physical and verbal antagonism sound suspiciously like a cover-up for thin material. On a good note, the honeycomb lighting display provides an intriguing, multi-textured backdrop to add spectacle but otherwise, Hot Brown Honey spends much of its time very explicitly preaching to the converted.