Unapologetically Femme: Five Ways Hive City Legacy is Fabulously Feminist
The Roundhouse play that is centring and celebrating femme’s of colour.
Review by Rhona Ezuma
Pollinate. Activate. Liberate. Taking as seat in the Sackler space theatre of the Roundhouse this is the motto you find plastered on the wall of the Hive City set. At first you are not very sure what to make of it; much like our protagonist (Farrell Cox) who in the opening scenes tip-toes and treads over its hive plinths curling her body between its walls, you wonder: what exactly is this world you’ve been given access to?
What is to follow is an explosive, dynamic performance soaked in the power of brown and blackness, and richness of being femme. Word selection can be a powerful and a political thing. Hive City Legacy makes sure there is no chance of confusion when it comes to its stance. Choosing the more inclusive word femme in its bi-line and describing itself as a play ‘for Femmes of Colour,’ it has inclusivity slathered so close to its core its impossible to get away from it. There are many reasons for why the show is not only a wonderful thing, but a very feminist thing but here are the ones the make it to the top.
POWER TO THE FEMMES
Everyone who worked on the play is a femme of colour. The play combines some powerful voices with some new ones. Being directed by Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz of the Australian show piece Hot Brown Honey, they worked with hip hop artist Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg, to select their cast via an application process that saw 250 applicants, ‘self-identifying as femme,’ cut down to the vital nine raw talents. The cast (some of whom are self-taught dancers) not only bring forth their energy when the beat drops, but also their skills in comedy, poetry and singing through out the play.
IT’S ABOUT FEMME SELF-DISCOVERY
The world of Hive city is a maze through which we see the different stars stories told. As the lids of the set open up, experiences of femmes of colour are unleashed and so are the so often swept-passed narratives of micro-aggressions and struggles that they face. Unapologetically it centralises the experiences of the self proclaimed ‘league of extraordinary femmes’ whose badass frames are unafraid to take up the space of the stage. Dispelling the myth of a single story, we hear dynamic recounts about run-ins with the male gaze, dealings with mental health and the drama’s of a too proper sounding accent entwined into one.
THE DANCING IS SENSATIONAL
The dance that laces the play is an invigorating mishmash of burlesque, twerking, body popping and street dance. As the femmes saunter through movements that are fierce, graceful and lascivious all at once, they pay no mind paid to whom they may affront. The female form in its own gaze is made powerful both in its sexuality and lack-of – It is liberating to watch! The perfectly coordinated outfits, as styled by wardrobe stylist Sabrina Henry, add perfect harmony to the characters and the slapstick of their movements.
ITS ONE FOR THE LONDON GYALS
You will giggle at its portrayal of British values. Some great sketched come out of portrayals of the horrors of the morning squeeze on tube, coupled with skits of the casts classic English impatience towards slow moving tourists. It is hilariously funny whilst still highlighting seriou questions of belonging and prejudice that centre around black and brown femme bodies related to nationalism in England.
A POWERFUL MESSAGE IS THE PLAYS HONEY
The culminating point has to be that the show holds power. HCL is entertaining, you will cackle through it, hoot even but like all good art, it leaves something memorable trailing behind, some little burst revolution has been ignited in you. The play is about power outside the auditorium, and in the final scenes the the cast remind themselves and the audience that “It starts with us.”