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Briefs (Edinburgh Fringe): Review

briefs Birds of a feather strip together. The cast of 'Briefs'. Photograph: Courtesy of the production.

Rib-tickling, jaw-dropping, and trouser-tightening, Briefs is bulging with balls-out cheek, mesmerising circus, and sizzling sexuality.

For their fourth year in a row, Australian based “cirlesquaret” troupe, Briefs, returns to the London Southbank for its beefiest run yet: a full eight weeks. Combining high flying circus acts, burly burlesque, and outlandish drag cabaret, the show has systematically titillated and tickled audiences since they first landed on the Southbank in 2012.

Briefs

Captain Kidd taking a bird bath. Photograph: Courtesy of the production.

Concept & Production

Hybrid/fusion shows have become no stranger to the London cabaret scene. Since La Clique made its high profile début at the London Hippodrome back in 2008, the format for off-kilter interdisciplinary and adult variety has become a much loved trope.

Briefs is more burlesque than anything else, turning the the genre away from the better known lusty ladies in lingerie towards a hulk of hunky hotness: it’s an all-male tease that makes Magic Mike seem like a flaccid derivative. Even the incredibly daring and genuinely stunning trapeze acts simmer with unfathomable sex-appeal: your legs will be crossed as much as your mouth will be open. But in order to achieve this, Briefs know that its not just the performers that have to look (very, very) good, but the show does too. Performer Dallas Dellaforce’s costumes are simply divine and atherially dazzling, but don’t destract from the sex. It’s a sparkling and seductive mix of glitz, sleaze, and humour, with everything from rhinestone posing pouches to sequin posing pooches. Lighting brings moments of astonsihing visual aesthetics, especially for some of the death-defying aerial routines, adding sheer wonderment and theatrical pizzazz whilst also bringing out the colour, fun, and seduction that is inherent in everything that Briefs does.

briefs

Lucky Charm’s chair-lesque. Photograph: Courtesy of the production.

Speaking of fun, that is utlimately what Briefs is, and there’s a LOT of it. Despite the sleaze, audiences are invited to laugh, revel (and sometimes revile) and be merry. Briefs is a celebration of circus and cabaret performance and the male form, with outrageous aplomb and naughty imagination. Indeed, even though Briefs might not initially appeal to straight male audiences it doesn’t stop any dragged-along boyfriends or the cabaret-curious from enjoying themselves. The male eroticism might not make them twinge like many of the audience’s members (pun intended), but its pretty difficult to not be wowed or stay stoic about the amount of laughs and acrobatic surprises that Briefs has to offer: bringing my straight male friend Rhodri with me to do a video review certainly proved this point. You do, however, need to be quiet open minded to really relax into the campy hedonism of Briefs.

Now with Underbelly Productions on board, Briefs has undergone a few minor changes. Most noticeably is the addition of facial hair to performer Thomas Warrell, but its the more supple tweaks that really make the show. The interludes between main acts was something that didn’t quite flow too well last time, and formed the only criticism of last year’s five star review. However, for this new show they’ve been tightened up ensuring they don’t go on too long, with one or two of them gone completely from the repertoire. It reduces the show to a mere 75 minutes, but its an hour and a quarter of slick, sick, and pristinely perverted pleasure.

briefs

It’s probably best not to ask. The cast of ‘Briefs’. Photograph: Courtesy of the production.

Performers

Briefs’ performers still have it, and four years haven’t made them or the show lose any lustre. Fez Fa’anana is still the indomitable and shamelessly sassy ring master, compering and performing with brilliant shade and smut, working the crowd to their tune with astonishing ease. 2010 Las Vegas King of Burlesque Evil Hate Monkey is still hilariously and arousingly vile, ensuring people get one of their five a day. And fellow Las Vegas King of Burlesque (2011), Captain Kidd, still stupefies with acrobatic finesse and seduction. Objects of objectification Lucky Charm and Louis Biggs are as playful and agile as they are smouldering, especially Biggs with his infamous Rubix Cube and yo-yo routine. Dallas DeLaforce’s drag routines and influence on the show gives Briefs a wonderfully kitsch sense of variety, whilst Warrell is an utterly gorgeous show stealer with his aerial performances. The whole Briefs troupe have a genuine bond and rapport between them all, and its great to see that even after four years in London they’re still having as much fun and cheek with each other as they do with new and old audiences alike.

Verdict

Filth! Pure unadulterated glorious filth! Forget the 1970s, Briefs is the stunning circus sexual revolution you’ve all been waiting for.

Briefs plays at the Assembly Hall (venue 35) Edinburgh, EH1 2LU, until 21 August. Tickets are £17.50 (concessions available). To book, visit tickets.edfringe.com.
Briefs was reviewed during its run at the London Wonderground, London, SE1 8XX until 27 September 2015.

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