Creative Producer: Fez Faanana
Reviewer: Jeffrey Mayhew
Well. We’ll start with the usual caveats, “Not for the faint-hearted”, “Might not be your cup of tea”, “Wear a mac…” But then even the briefest of glances at the publicity should have rung alarm bells should you have any to ring. As the wondrous Fez Faanana quipped, “If you liked it tell your friends. If you hated it get really drunk and black the whole thing out.” So where did this roaring, storming power house of a bent circus start out? From what spangled, muscle-bound planet did it descend? Fez Faanana, in an Australian interview, elucidated:
“BRIEFS” was spawned in the back warehouse space of a bookshop in Brisbane’s West End in 2008. We put on a club night to give performers the chance to try out some late night cabaret/variety acts. There were no rules or restrictions. We weren’t anwering to a brief or a venue or a funding body. It was purely artist driven with no agenda. It was completely off the radar. It was stuck together with a bit of hope, gaff and glitter. It had great energy and we’ve kept that rough and tumble spirit. We’ve been described as an ‘Aussie Cirque du Soleil meets Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ and that’s pretty true and it’s a whole lot more.”
And a whole lot more it certainly is. The circus skill level is stunning and covers much of what you would expect from high quality physical performance. Except, of course, that like Ginger Rogers they did much of it in high heels. And depending how you look at it – backwards. All the performers are at the top of their game (and individual plaudits are a little invidious though Mark Winmill’s a bit special) and in ensemble, whether it be in a veritable frou-frou of disciplined ostrich plumes or some very startlingly contextualised hoop work, they are breathtakingly effective. Too much description – tempting though it is – would spoil some of the shocks and surprises. Oh my word, especially the raffle. Beats any village hall raffle anyone’s ever witnessed.
The humorous travesty and the “but we’re men really” bravado that so enlivened the wonderful all male Gilbert and Sullivan of Sasha Regan (which went off to Australia, curiously enough) and which was so much in evidence here is immensely enjoyable. The classic, exaggerated female lip-synching traditional drag elements (very few) seemed less effective in this context and a little forlorn and out of place but nevertheless the audience in general seemed more than happy with this element
A non-stop mixture of virtuoso athletic acrobatics and vulgar drag make “Briefs” a compelling watch. Every performer oozes self-assurance in this slick non-stop show from Oz. Catch it while you can.