This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
Drag and male burlesque make for unashamedly trashy bedfellows. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in Briefs’ return visit to London Wonderground, mixing sequins, striptease and circus skills to enjoyable effect.
Held together by self-described “bearded Aussie drag queen” Shivannah (the show’s creative producer Fez Faanana), who combines effortless MC duties with a fun line in magic tricks, the show opens to the sound of audience whoops and cheers that are so raucous they could only come from the troupe’s established fans. By the end of the first big showpiece, a traditional ensemble fandance striptease, it’s fair to say that fanbase is already growing.
The first big solo number comes from some stunning aerial hoop work by Tom Worrell, his contortions and choreography having the air of effortless impossibility of a truly great cirque show. Similarly, Mark Winmill (aka “Captain Kidd”) closes the show with a trapeze and birdbath act that is muscular, graceful and fierce, while also drenching the first couple of rows.
Between these two impressive solos, the pieces are more patchy in nature. Drag act Dallas Dellaforce’s lip synching feels like it comes from a different, less accomplished show, while the anarchic simian comedy of Adam Krandle (or, as he is billed, “Evil Hate Monkey”) will not appeal to all.
But the breakout star, and absolute highlight, of the show is Australian Louis Biggs. Whether stripping out of a school uniform while playing with a Rubik’s cube and a yoyo, performing an impressive juggling act with bowler hats, or even just letting a raffle-winning audience member drink tequila from his torso, Biggs’ personality and charm elevates the whole show.
While it may be of variable quality and occasionally even more trashy that it seeks to be, the Briefs troupe nevertheless delivers a fast-paced, amusing and entertaining show that demands smiles and laughter from its audience, and is suitably – and justifiably – rewarded.