The Hoes is Ifeyinwa Frederick’s debut play and she has made a formidable entrance as a playwright. The former Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab participant’s play is expertly directed by Soho Theatre’s resident director Lakesha Arie-Angelo. Having watched these talented and ambitious women hone their theatre craft over the past few years, it is joyous seeing their successful collaboration as they and the phenomenal cast flourish in this bold, daring production. Yes, we have a long way to go but right now it is a fantastic time to be a black woman in theatre.
The Hoes overflows with melanin greatness
The Hoes – the title itself instantly courts controversy, and commands your attention as we think about what a ‘hoe’ represents.
I’ve been to Ibiza, much like the setting of this play –myself and two best friends, in our twenties and free to do whatever; free of parental gaze and of course, free to drink as much as we wanted, dance the night away and stay out until sunrise. It’s an experience that can either make or break you (and your friendships).
The Hoes, is a succinct three-hander, which delves deep in bringing to the stage, the narrative around black female sexuality and sisterhood – a rare theatre experience but much needed diversion from the samey depictions of black women, black people and the struggles that I don’t need to go into through this review. How refreshing it is to get to know childhood friends Bim (Mariéme Diof), Alex (Aretha Ayeh) and J (Nicola Maisie Taylor) as we hang out with them in their holiday digs discussing body counts, Drake, Instagram and selfies whilst they sip rosé and tequila for breakfast and dinner. Anna Reid’s set design is spot on as various bottles of alcohol adorn the space.
I loved the bassline laden garage tracks that accented this production but what I enjoyed most about The Hoes, was the dialogue between this trio. It was real, honest banter which was familiar to me from my own friendship groups and whatsapp chats – plenty of jokes, a bit sweary (actually this crew is a lot sweary), but always from a good place and sometimes hitting a nerve or overstepping the mark. I’m sure some audience members may have been aghast at the language and frank sexual badinage they were hearing on stage. ‘I like men. I like sex’, Bim tells us. Masturbation? Check. Vibrators? Check. It’s good to switch things up a bit on stage. Not everyday, Shakespeare and Iambic Pentameter.
The young women are each battling with their own adulting struggles with some being more open about their journey than others.
The Hoes, centres on the friendthip of three unique, intelligent, outspoken women – each with their own hangups and all the challenges that come with trying to navigate their way through a quarterlife crisis (a real issue for many 25 to 35-year-olds) – essentially they are just regular women. Writer, Ifey Frederick, a feminist, describes being a hoe, as ‘a woman doing as she pleases with her body, in someone’s eyes you qualify for hoe status’. A loaded statement open to much interpretation through her three characters – who are all likeable and well-rounded. It’s hard not to invest as one by one they give us insight into what a quarter-life criis looks like in 2018.
Through meltdowns, drunken confessions and teary exchanges, The Hoes (or more affectionately, ‘the three hoes of Essex) overflows with melanin greatness and sharp quips and we all need a sprinkling of this type of theatre joy in our lives. More, please!