Reviewer: Alan Foran
The Dublin Fringe Festival has descended upon the city, and one of the first night shows was Briefs The Second Coming, living up to one of the festivals goals of bringing along the best of international arts. And what a way to start a festival with a non-stop, lively, all male vaudevillian meets burlesque show, pulled together with large doses of fun, theatrics and jaw-dropping impressive physical acts. Or ‘burlesque with balls!’
Briefs are from Brisbane in the land down under, who started small at the back of a book shop to where they are now: ‘glitter bombing the globe’. Their second visit to the festival is a mixture of styles that range from vaudeville, street theatre, burlesque and physical mid-air acts, linked together with the bawdy and raucous, that build into a ‘circus meets club feel’, with the core of the show being the undeniably skillful physical performances.
The opening is nicely choreographed, with a lot of style, and feathers! There is a playful feeling that infuses the entire evening. There is something impressive and finessed about an acrobat using nothing but straps and strength to move in a myriad of ways that defy gravity, and early on this is what we are treated to. There is no safety net added to the spectacle, giving it an element of the dangerous. Comedy is rampant in the piece, but the best of it is in the fabulous mimed pastiche of an iconic figure, relying only on the soundtrack, the physical performance and the facial expressions. Without using a word everything is conveyed. It is sheer brilliance.
Diversity is the name of the game, bringing in elements such as magic tricks, a Rubik’s cube, even yo-yos, or spinners, depending on your generation. At times the bawdy becomes totally risqué and, at one point, stomach turning. However, the fun and the sense of not taking themselves too seriously is never lost, which is a stroke of brilliance. The lighting is wonderfully atmospheric, adding to the moment, but never overpowering, while the sound is balanced perfectly.
One of the main downsides is that it seems to lack pace in the middle, coming off the rails slightly as well as being a little repetitive as the evening goes on. But like all good shows of this kind they open with a bang, and finish with a big moment. The final dance ensures that you will be leaving with your feet tapping. The show itself is one act, with Eleanor Tiernan warming up the house, doing a good job and pushing the envelope a bit herself.
Briefs are about entertaining, and entertain they do, through wonderful varied performances from the whole troupe. What is on display is a show that never loses its sense of fun, raucous bawdiness, and desire to entertain. The festival programme does warn that it is for over 18s only and contains nudity, and they aren’t wrong there. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will entertain, and be something different, which is, after all, what the fringe is all about.
Runs until 11 September, 2013