In 2016 our local professional theatre scene stepped it up and addressed some challenging yet topical matters such as sexual diversity, gender empowerment, and racial awareness.  This year alone, critically acclaimed productions such as ‘Blaque Showgirls’, ‘Boyz’, ‘Briefs’, ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Kinky Boots’ have not only thrilled and entertained audiences, they left viewers educated and enlightened within a safe and positive space as well.

Last April, ‘Hot Brown Honey’ made its mark as an exciting and integral part of Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival.

Now playing for a strictly return season at Southbank’s Arts Centre complex, the show is loud, proud, high – energy and ready to party. Hot on the heels of the above – mentioned pieces, this spirited mix of circus arts, cabaret, burlesque, song and dance is determined to break all of the rules.  Boom or bust!

Kim Bowers is the musical director of ‘Hot Brown Honey’. She also plays its hilarious character – driven mistress of ceremonies, an alpha – dog disc jockey called Busty Beatz (sporting gigantic fake breasts and an untouchable afro to match).

In a recent interview, Bowers talked about the lack of brown faces on local television, film and live theatre. Her prime motivation was that if the environment wasn’t there for artists like her to join in, she decided to create her own work instead. Building on the idea of putting women of colour centre – stage, she and her team wanted to address important social issues with bawdy humour and flair. ‘Hot Brown Honey’ is also provocative in that it builds a self – aware platform for political awareness and conversation through art.

Opening night was prefaced by a moving address by a respected community elder. It should be noted this thoughtful introduction set the inclusive and positive mood in the room to come.

The show’s troupe of seven women bring vocal and physical acrobatics to the table, reconfigured to the stereotype – smashing narrative they want to tell. With a ninety – minute non – stop running time, ‘Hot Brown Honey’ is jam – packed with a dozen different and inventive routines.

The loose, linear format allows each artist room to showcase both their stand – alone performance and story – telling skills. Some of the evening’s highlights included:

  • A wicked opening sequence that pays delicious yet ironic tribute to both Oprah Winfrey and the film, ‘The Help’.
  • Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami’s beat – box rapping with a gangster vibe.
  • Ofa Fotu’s twisted torch diva singing ‘It’s A Man’s World’ outfitted like a politically – incorrect Arnott’s biscuit.
  • Lisa Fa’alafi’s Polynesian strip – tease in the spirit of Josephine Baker and Aerosmith.
  • Busty Beatz’s audience – participatory lap dancing where no one is spared.
  • Crystal Stacey’s powerful and dramatic aerial ribbon piece about female domestic violence.

Nothing technical with this production has been left to chance.

The show’s theming is consistent, from the team’s hive – patterned hip hop jump suits, to the oversized hexagonal lighting display used as a podium backdrop. Combined with smooth stage management and excellent sound design, audience members will be able to enjoy all of these elements up close and personal.

Presented by the same production company responsible for the all – male burlesque show, ‘Briefs’ (which will be following ‘Hot Brown Honey’ next week at the Fairfax Studio), this is a high – octane experience with something for everyone.

The fun continues until Sunday December 11.

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