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Hot Brown Honey review at Southbank Centre, London – ‘fierce and political’

The cast of Hot Brown Honey at Southbank Centre, London. Photo: Dylan Evans

Hot Brown Honey is here to explode everything you thought you knew about cabaret. The Australian neo-burlesque collective perform a full throttle show accompanied by a pounding soundtrack spun by ‘Queen Bee’ Busty Beatz, from atop her glowing hive.

The seven performers pull out new threads from familiar cabaret acts. Stereotypes are subverted and the audience seduced. Lisa Fa’alafi’s burlesque routine is a disruption of the male and National Geographic gaze that has exoticised and other-ed indigenous people. Her Polynesian maiden transforms from shampoo-commercial fantasy to swaggering warrior woman. It’s typical of the exuberant naughtiness that runs throughout this show. Hope Hammi culminating her beatbox seduction of one lucky, audience member with a glitter canon orgasm.

Crystal Stacey’s hula-hooping is mesmeric and satirical but it’s her final aerial piece, a moment of deep, genuine emotion, that’s seemingly incongruous in such a fast-paced performance, that has the audience on their feet even before the final dance-off curtain call.

This is cabaret with a passionate message that makes no concessions. There is no hiding from the Honeys’ politics, it’s in your face in Ofa Fotu belting out This is a Man’s World while dressed as a Golliwog, the racist child’s toy that apparently 63% of Brits don’t consider offensive. It’s there in ‘The Privilege Test’ in which the women, lit brightly, slowly raise their hands as if in the glare of a police car’s headlights. It all contributes to the power of this knock-out show.

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Verdict
Fierce and political fist-pumping cabaret from the Australian neo-burlesque collective
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