Atop a giant illuminated beehive stands Busty Beatz, calling the shots and guiding the audience through a whirlwind party of music, dance, performance and hip-hop politics. This is theatrical cabaret at its finest — a beautiful, artful, provocative, thoughtful, visceral, stereotype-challenging ride with strong and talented women at the wheel. This is Hot Brown Honey.
Produced by Australia’s Briefs Factory collective, it’s the perfect opener for this year’s High Performance Rodeo — an incredibly powerful, fun and entertaining production. This is not fluffy entertainment, however. This is six strong indigenous women on stage creating a party vibe, capturing the audience’s attention with their humour and talent, and then not-so-subtly hitting you where it counts with a bit of social commentary. The cabaret-style performance strips away, quite literally, layers of stereotypes surrounding women – indigenous, colonized, queer – with remarkable humour and finesse.
As Busty Beatz delivers life lessons from the top of her pulpit, the other performers —The Game Changer, The Myth Slayer, Hope One The Beatboxer, The Truth Sayer, The Peace Maker and The Queen Bee — whip the audience into a frenzy of emotion and delight, encouraging, no, demanding that you make noise during the performance, which adds to the fun and makes you more invested. So yes, now you too are fighting the power.
Hot Brown Honey is a spectacle that leaves the audience empowered and exhilarated. From the beauty of the “hive” lit up for each sequence, to the amazing costumes and costume changes (how did she…? How is that possible?), the journey we’re taken on by the performers is pure positive energy. It’s a party and we’re all invited to step up, speak up and engage. Whether you take away a sense of activism or just enjoy the show for sheer entertainment value, this is one at the High Performance Rodeo that should not be missed. Decolonize and moisturize, my friends.
Hot Brown Honey runs until Jan. 6 at Theatre Junction GRAND. Check http://hprodeo.ca for schedule.
Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event listings page, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.