What started small grew gradually, picking up more performers along the way. Hot Brown Honey performed at the Woodford Folk Festival in 2015 and got five star reviews at both the Adelaide Fringe and at the Opera House in 2016. It was hailed as one of the must-see shows of last year's Edinburgh Fringe.
“The women in Hot Brown Honey are all queen bees out to sting male assumptions and privilege, question outmoded attitudes and make links between different kinds of oppression,” wrote Lyn Gardner in The Guardian. “Smashing the patriarchy has never seemed quite so much fun.”
Fa’alafi is pumped to be returning to the Opera House with a show that will, with a few additions, be similar to their first sold-out season.
There aren’t many shows on stage that broach topics like domesic violence and the lingering violence of colonisation. Even fewer do so from the perspective of brown women. Fa’alafi thinks the show's success is partly driven by a greater appetite to talk politics, spured on by where politics has been headed.
“White audiences are ready for this,” she says.
But what of audience members from the performers’ own culture, which can be conservative, particularly around matters of sex? (Male homosexuality is illegal in many Polynesians states.) Fa’alafi agrees that they can be conservative, but laughter always wins.
“When there’s an aunty in the audience, or someone older, I can spot them a mile away, I can see how that reads," she says. "Humour is a huge part of our language. Our show is very entertaining, there’s a lot of funny. We’re just managing to push those boundaries.”
Hot Brown Honey returns to The Studio at Sydney Opera House from 7 June to 25 June.