Let us begin with what is definitely the most mind-boggling thing of the evening: a very attractive man making Rubix Cube and the classic yoyo sexy.
Briefs is a bold, bright, sassy performance by a seven piece circus ensemble, complete with glitter, feathers, modern circus tricks, jump rope, drag queens, a raffle, and a Rubix cube. The six Aussies and a New York local have been taking the world by storm, since their first show in Melbourne in 2011. Following a hurricane of glitter in London, Berlin, Paris, Edinburgh, and Glastonbury, they settled in to a sold out crowd at the Athenaeum Comedy Club above the theatre tonight in Melbourne.
If I could ever believe that the grace of the 1920s and burlesque could exist in a pack of men dancing on stage in tighty-whiteys, it’s here. It’s rude, it’s full of “Occa”, dry Australian humour with just a dash of rowdy racism, and it hangs it on wherever they are compared to Queensland. The blend of the dark humour of drag and the evocative and talented world of circus on one stage is so seamless, so witty and so belly-achingly entertaining. Drag circus is an understatement: the show is a true spectacle to beyond, from the slick, wicked humour we’ve seen paraded around The Greyhound in St Kilda and RuPaul’s Drag Race, paired with Cirque Du Soleil style aerial tricks and
Now if you’re a St Kilda local and have previously caught the Boylesque act that used to play at The Greyhound on a Friday night, you’re somewhat prepared for this show. This goes above and beyond, and has (in my opinion) better mastered the balance between lip-syncing and circus acts, because there is not one moment during Briefs where you are not laughing or watching in awe. No watches were consulted and the time flew by, and the audience were still hungry for more after an hour and a half.
The performers are brilliant. Thomas Worrell, who performs across aerial hoop, aerials silks and other tumbling skills, is the only man who can make jeggings appear sexy. Shivannah (Fez Faanana) our enigmatic, bearded and high heeled glad host commands the audience into fits of giggles and has everyone hollering for more. Las Vegas burlesque award winner Captain Kidd, one of Australia’s leading aerialists, puts on an incredible finale to the show with a trapeze and a bird bath, and the cast is rounded out by stunning, comedic performances by Dallas Dellaforce, Evil Hate Monkey from the US, Lachy Shelly and Louis Biggs. These devilishly handsome boys will have you in awe, laughing your ass off, a little in shock from the humour or somewhere in between.
It is worth noting that perhaps all of the audience members were not prepared for drag-style humour, as I shall refer to it as, which does not hold back about anything. Swearing, a bit of racism, gender jokes, same sex and regular gay jokes round out the humour, and Shivannah does clearly point out to audiences “If you laughed at that last joke, you’re a racist”. Go into this show prepared to be entertained and perhaps a little offended, both at the jokes and how commonplace and accepted they are in our culture, and you’ll be right as rain (especially if you’re sitting in the front three rows…. Bring a raincoat).
The costumes are bright, sequined and minimalistic: and by that I mean covering as little of the attractive troupe as possible. From big, feathery burlesque costumes down to the bright tighty-whiteys, and everything in-between, it is crisp, shiny and well suited to the performance. The nature of these shows, often featuring vignettes and individual performances by each character, means a lot of costume changes, and we jump from tuxedos to school boy outfits, to star-spangled, sequins Australian jocks without missing a beat. It’s also regularly mentioned that the more noise you make, the more clothing will be removed, and even the biggest and smallest costumes are well managed, with many of the changes occurring on stage, hiding provocatively behind feathers, or getting down to business with a bit of a striptease.
The sound of the show really completes the thing: from big 70s and 80s tunes, mixed in with covers and songs from now, and burlesque and early 1920s inspired instrumentals, the sound paints a rich landscape of fabulous, frivolous fun nights out. The lighting is bright, pulsing and very reminiscent of concerts or clubs, and paired with the regularly mentioned undergarments, makes fantastic use of black light. Stage management also needs a shout out here in conjunction with lighting – this is a tight act. The stage is constantly controlled and filled with engaging content, and the lighting is well timed to ensure we are never paying attention to the set changes, and only to our sassy host as she walks the crowds sporting an array of beautiful wigs and sequined dresses to matching her sparkling wit.
I don’t want to ruin too much of the show, but I do want to highlight that this is the show I am most likely to recommend to everyone I know while it is running. It is unmissable entertainment, and would do so very well to hang around in Melbourne with a rotating residency in a venue, to further showcase the incredible talent that is crammed into 90 minutes here. A few other things: If you sit in the front few rows, you’ll have a first hand view of the Brazilian waxed males, magic tricks, and sit underneath the spinning hoops and aerial silks in rapture, but you will also risk sitting in the splash zone. However, when I go along to catch the show again, and I fully intend to, that’s where I’d want to be sitting. Also, if you win the raffle, you will end up on stage.
Start your engines Melbourne, and do not miss out on this magnificent, rowdy night out with Briefs, playing at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne until the 5th of December.