Underbelly Productions and Briefs Factory
Seven strong Briefs from Brisbane are back on the Southbank for another season. They are a mix of circus and burlesque with a high camp edge and a lot of titillation.
They describe themselves as the “all-male, all-vaudeville, all-trash brat pack”, what you get when you “combine kings of circus, queens of drag, burlesque royalty, glitter, feathers and flesh”. That’s not a bad description though its not complete.
After an opening number that is an elaborate fan dance that ends up bare flesh and the eponymous briefs (less later!) shining in ultra violet light, compère and ringmaster Fez Fa’Anana greets the punters and runs the show in a succession of stunning outfits. He talks too much and a bit too near his mic, but he looks gorgeous—and that’s just his eyelashes.
What follows from the show’s six Aussie artists and their American colleague is a succession of first rate circus deliciously wrapped up in glamorous costumes and camp humour that runs the gamut from a schoolboy solving a Rubik’s cube in sixty seconds to tutu-clad pointe work.
There’s amazing contortion done most gracefully in a suspended ring from Thomas Worrell. Louis Biggs uses a yoyo like a diabolo and threatens the audience with it before involving his sock-covered member in the action. Evil Hate Monkey is an acrobat with a banana fetish he shares with the audience in almost orgasmic action.
Curly-haired Lachy Shelley is big on balance among his many qualities that make him perfect for a risqué sequence with a member of the audience. Dallas Della Forge (who also designs the costumes) appears as a quivering, balloon-breasted blonde. Mark Winmill, among many things, has an audience-soaking aerial act involving a big bowl of water.
Briefs is ninety exciting and hilarious minutes packed with non-stop action that packs in a whole range of fast and risky looking acrobatics on the narrow catwalk, juggling with great big bones, multiple spinning hula hoops, elegant lisse work, intricate fancy skipping, magician’s legerdemain and even (shut your eyes!) some comic canine coprophagy.
If you think all this sounds totally tasteless (no, I didn’t mean that last thing) it is clearly not for you but if you like a laugh, find circus skills impressive and have even a smidgen of camp sensibility you’ll love it.
A quick glance round the audience revealed what looked like a lot of hen parties and male couples—a great many seemed to be fans who had seen the company before and were eagerly back for another helping. No wonder: this isn't a body bonanza but much more; it is real entertainment.
Sure there is flesh on show—and feathers and sequins and some very original caches-sexes that add to the audience’s enjoyment, but all that is just the comically glamorous (un)dressing for genuine circus skills. There is lots of talent in all senses.
Reviewer: Howard Loxton