The hive bursts forth and out pour the Hot Brown Honey bees. They’re fierce and aggressive and they mean business. Don’t anyone try and steal their sweet nectar, it is not for you to touch bitches. Fuck the patriarchy says Busty Beats, our queen for the evening. She whips us up into a ritualistic frenzy, screaming anger at the world and ready to explode with joy and love and freedom at the show to come.

Except we never do. Parts of the show are everything they promise to be and more – “Don’t Touch My Hair” is fast and furious and empoweringly fabulous; but solo performances leave us lukewarm. I get so excited at the hula act that I throw my pen in the midst of dancing like a lunatic, but apart from that I’m left in my seat wondering when the feeding frenzy is going to froth up once more.

There’s a carnal, tribal attitude to parts of the Hot Brown Honey show that are underpinned with a message of individuality, acceptance and protection for the rights you enjoy. One act appears as a Samoan basket-weaver, making fashion and fury for herself, an innovative display of cleverly concealed costuming. In reverse burlesque style, she dances around semi-naked and begins to cover herself up with a defiant, ‘fuck you, men’ attitude. Forced to conform and sacrifice her history and heritage, she is determined to do it with as much fighting spirit as she can muster.

But some of Hot Brown Honey is intended to pointlessly shock. Busty comes down from the top of her hive to batter the audience with oversized comedy breasts. It’s extreme and intentionally inflammatory, but it doesn’t have the build-up to support it. The shock factor doesn’t take root as anything more developed. Accompanied by overactive monkeys, this concept is superficial filler that lessens the intended, deep-rooting impact of the show.

“We are not the maid” screams Busty Beats throughout the production, forcing her hive not to clean up in caricature French maid costumes – the ultimate image of obedience and servitude to the fat cats sitting on high, gorging themselves sick. This is a revolution, this is a rebellion and we are the Hot Brown Honey army, ready to swarm over those who try and take away what is ours. As the show ends with a sunflower fan dance, we are left feeling empowered but not enraged. Hot Brown Honey has such strength that at times it fails to land. But beware, for this hive still has its sting and is buzzing mad for the chance to unleash.

 

★★★☆☆

Hot Brown Honey plays Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 27 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

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