Hot Brown Honey – review Southbank Centre

Words by: Elvina Quaison | Published: Friday, July 27, 2018 4:24 PM

Hot Brown Honey (HBH) is not what you might expect from a cabaret and burlesque show – it is so much more. The offering from Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers and Lisa Af’Alafi delivers its message with an all singing, all dancing, all beat boxing sledgehammer – a message about feminism, racism, genderism…pretty much every ism out there and demands we discuss it or at least engage with it, NOW. From the introduction provided by Lisa which begins with ‘We are from Australia. I know, there are Australians who look like this’, and points to her olive skinned, big brown eyed and dark wavy-haired self. The Honey’s are an eclectic group of varying tones of brown skinned skilfulness.


Well worth getting your friends together and going to spend some time in the hive sampling some of that sweet Hot Brown Honey

Having grown up in the time of Neighbours and Home and Away I understood what the host was referring too. My idea of Australians pretty much centred around Kylie and ‘plain Jane super brain’ blonde bounciness – though Heartbreak High did make strides in highlighting the diverse communities that make up Australia. That said, overall, we don’t think about the race and prejudice issues, unless it is the Aboriginal struggle, in Australia as much as, for example, America. Hot Brown Honey aim to broaden our awareness in the most dramatic and fun way possible.


Who knew a rather impressive hula hoop dance could provide social commentary on the disrespectful way people from one culture can act and be when they visit other countries. Or giving voice to the image of the stereotyped pretty, grass skirted Pacific Island girl who smiles, sways and plays with grass and flowers. This Pacific Island woman known as Lisa Fa’Alafi had something to say about this and she did so through an interesting back to front striptease. She started less and ended up leaving us with so much more.


The DJ, Kim’Busty Beatz’ Bowers provided commentary and quotes throughout, guiding the audience through the meaning and importance of each act. Talking about colonialism, cultural inappropriate behaviour (Don’t touch my hair – an interesting reworking of Beyoncé’s Who Runs the World song by Ofa Fotu who has a great distinctive voice. Also, interesting because Beyoncé is the sister of Solange who has a song called Don’t Touch my Hair (fun fact) and poor representation of women in general and women of colour particularly. The Hot Brown Honey production is their means of forcing through that broader representation and it is refreshing to see it on the Southbank in the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall…via burlesque.


Hot Brown Honey delivers its message with an all singing, all dancing, all beat boxing sledgehammer – a message about feminism, racism, genderism

My favourite piece was by the aerial and hoops artist Crystal Stacey. Crystal moved fluidly, beautifully articulating through movement the pain and frustration of loneliness, of depression caused by any and all of the issues HBH are raising and the pain of having to deal constantly with these emotions. Purposefully highlighting the dangers of the corresponding mental health issues that for some can come to a tragic end – this was a necessary and beautifully moving piece. Each piece had a quote attached for this piece a part of the Angela Davis quote used was “I write for those women who do not speak…we’ve been taught silence would save us, but it won’t.” I came away feeling this was the call HBH was responding to, with this production.


HBH is a fun filled, interactive, can’t sit still production - because the music is so good, it’s a night out interspersed with definitive and strong messages. For me some elements are tighter than others but overall well worth getting your friends together and going to spend some time in the hive sampling some of that sweet Hot Brown Honey.



Info: Hot Brown Honey is at the Southbank Centre until 28 July 2018 | book tickets




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