HoneyPot – Showbox Theatre
An Edinburgh Fringe Festival show review
Quality of Performance:
Intelligent and topical, ‘Honeypot’ drags old-fashioned fairytales, kicking and screaming, out of their dusty history and pushes them into the present day. With a flick of a wand and bibbity-bobbity-boo, the pumpkin has become a razor-sharp contemporary lens through which we can analyse how women fit, or do not fit, into modern society.
The show is split into multiple short vignettes in which various characters from assorted folklore become a part of our world. Tinkerbell is a social media influencer who promotes impossible beauty standards, encouraging young women to stay forever in her twisted, plastic version of Neverland. The Snow Queen is a single mother who runs an independent salon that is quickly being swallowed by a prejudiced, unforgiving economy. Cinderella is hiding in the bathroom, struggling with the pressures of her new marriage to a leery, pathetic ‘Prince Charming’. Like all good fairytales, it is bittersweet and relevant.
The stories are diverse, discussing themes of gender and sexuality, race, and mental health. Also featured are stories of forced sterilisation and another on asexuality and potentially transgender identity. I am so thankful that ‘Honeypot’ doesn’t pander to a specific, ‘commercial’ type of (white) feminism as it tackles these issues, but genuinely challenges and deconstructs what female empowerment and equality for women should actually be, and demonstrates how far we still have to go. I get tired when I see ‘feminist’ shows that fail to acknowledge the fact that feminism has not finished developing, and am therefore refreshed by the variety of perspectives included in this show. My only slight criticism is that I wish it included more LGBT+ material. The cast is also diverse, full of awesome women of colour who tell these stories with wit and energy.
The cast are funny, engaging, and the short stories grab your attention immediately. They shift roles fluidly and watching them transform into new characters is great fun. There is a lack of set in this show, but the use of the space is brilliant as they establish their environments through clear mime and movements. It is never confusing – obviously that character is unrolling loo paper, that one is driving a car, or giving birth – and means that there is no need for awkward blackouts for scene transitions (as a former youth theatre performer, I have a particular grudge against awkward blackouts in which boxes and chairs are dragged across the stage just to indicate a change of location).
This show is a delight, moving with a fast pace between stories so that you never get bored, and I am excited to see what this talented cast develop next. With a huge canon of folktales to choose from, it would be interesting to see if there is a sort of sequel.
Suffering and struggle may (unfortunately) be a tale as old as time, but ‘Honeypot’ is the mirror mirror on the wall demanding we change our rags into rallies for a better future.