Briefs – The Second Coming, London Wonderground

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.

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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.

http://vimeo.com/68692361

Briefs – The Second Coming, London Wonderground4Scott Matthewman2014-09-06 18:56:42Drag 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.

Miss Polly Rae – The All New Hurly Burly Show, Leicester Square Theatre

“It’s not about the sex,” croons Miss Polly Rae in one of this burlesque show’s uproarious musical numbers. “It’s the eyes and the teeth, the shimmy and the shoes.” She should possibly have added props and sets, which do so much to make her new show a sumptuous visual spectacle.

William Baker’s direction and Ashley Wallen’s choreography combine to find every available innuendo from the pop songs lovingly crafted into saucy striptease routines. Whether as a nun sashaying to It’s a Sin or writhing in bedroom negligee to a slow, sensual version of Michael Jackson’s Bad (reworked as one half of a dirty phone call), Rae displays a sense of humour every bit as naughty as the gradual removing of clothing.

Rae is at her best when delivering her own vocals. When she and her backing troupe, the Hurly Burly Girlys, resort to lip-synced vocals, it is often so that they can work on a routine that, in its freneticism, loses some of the charm so evident throughout. An exception is a brilliant routine with Polly and her girls bedecked in kimonos and parasols, performing to a medley of Japanese Boy, Hung Up, Umbrella and Naked in the Rain, which combines sauciness and musicality in a way that defines so much of the evening.

Less successful are the Hurly Burly Girlys’ solo performances. Each demonstrates accomplished ability in both dance and comedy. Unfortunately, in most cases, the choreography does not do them justice. They could each do with routines that better showed their abilities rather than just displaying their assets.