Theatre review: ‘Hot Brown Honey’

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This evening I went to see a show in the Spiegeltent on Merrion Square. The Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival began on Saturday. Tonight’s show was called ‘Hot Brown Honey’.

I knew nothing about this show. I had seen the advert in the programme, but as I had purchased tickets to two shows already – ‘Eggsistentialism’ and ‘Riot’ – I was not on the market for any more entertainment. Not volunteering at this festival means that I have to pay for my own tickets. Shock, horror. ┬áThat can end up a pricey affair.

However there were developments. An email from some friends from the Netherlands arrived , saying that they were in town for the weekend and asking if I’d like to meet on Sunday and maybe see this show with them. It’s not often that visitors from the Netherlands are here. So sure I’d go see the performance – more for the company than the actual show itself.

I knew absolutely nothing about it. Entering the Spiegeltent area of the park, I couldn’t even remember the name of the show.

‘A ticket for tonight’s show, my good man’ I asked the guy at the box office.

‘Which one?’ says he.

‘The one at seven please, ‘ says I, suitably embarrassed at not even knowing the name of the play I was paying a score to see.

I met my friends and we caught up. It was great to hear all the news from the old homeland.

And then into the show. The Spiegeltent is – as it’s name suggests – a tent. A big marquis with a circus roof. Along the side of the tent were booths with tabled seating. We captured one of those spaces. Because we are classy.

The blurb on the promotional material was worrying. It made the claim that the show ‘smashed stereotypes’. Whenever a claim like this is made, alarm bells start ringing in my head. This type of bold statement reminds me of those clickbait headlines in dodgy websites pretending to be news. ‘Seeing this cat, piss in the corner, will change the way you view the world. FOREVER.’ That sort of thing.

However ‘Hot Brown Honey’ is a triumph of a show. It’s not a play – as there is no narrative plot. It’s more a burlesque cabaret, featuring MC Busty Beatz and her troupe of five female dancers. It’s about how women of colour are marginalised by both racist and sexist expectations and stereotypes and it’s a call to arms to reject this. The show involves dancing, beatboxing, hula-hoop and an incredible circus trapeze performance. Largely performed to a hip hop soundtrack. The dancing and costumes are incredible. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the dancer with the broken arm – what rotten timing.

It’s not remotely subtle, roaring its message about the injustice perpetrated against women. I am not sure whether smothering male audience members with giant inflatable breasts, without their permission is really suitable in a show decrying the treatment of women because of their sex or race. This is only a minor quibble as clearly the intention was not to degrade the audience.

The company is Australian and were the winners of the audience award at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Having played the Edinburgh Fringe they are now playing Dublin all week.

They came out after the show to meet their adoring audience. As I got a selfie with Busty Beatz and one of the dancers, they told me to hashtag the picture and tell everyone to go see it?

What’s a hashtag?

I can’t disagree with her second point though – it’s a very entertaining show and well worth the ticket. It’s on until Friday in the Spiegeltent on Merrion Square. Show starts at 7pm. Go see it.

 

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