Briefs, the all-male cabaret circus troupe from (mostly) Australia has returned to London Wonderground for a four week run, starting on 2nd September.
The show opens with a brilliantly choreographed ensemble piece, Captain Kidd strutting on stage with a huge white peacock tail which opens to reveal the rest of the cast. Some great use of UV lights gives us floating feather fans and the eponymous briefs, at times reminiscent of one of the brilliant Muppet Show dance sketches.
Towering drag artist Fez Faanana hosts the show with a casual style which is likeable but is perhaps a bit understated for a show of such energy and spectacle. It falls to new boy Thom Worrell to take the first solo performance, which he does in immaculate style by tackling the aerial hoop with casual precision and unbelievable flexibility (all the while sporting a decidedly impractical hood). There is little showiness, it isn’t needed – the quality of his performance is more than enough. Following on his heels is the Evil Hate Monkey with another hoop, and the discovery of fire, in an act of such relentless athleticism it is almost exhausting to watch. Another ensemble piece follows, with individual elements from various cast members merging together at the end. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but more hit than miss. Louis Biggs’ geeky boylesque is superb, full of charming awkwardness and an incredible ability with several classic toys of the 80s.
Having hit so many highs early on, it was always going to be a challenge to maintain the quality, and true enough there is a bit of a dip in the middle of the show. Dallas Dellaforce arrives onstage looking like a character from an Austin Powers movie, and produces some amusing facial expressions but little else. Faanana provides a sort of Tommy Cooper style not-quite-magic act as both magician and assistant, which while amusing at times doesn’t quite hit the mark. A bizarre but largely entertaining dog show ensemble piece has many good moments, but ends with an ill-judged gross-out moment which leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth. Dellaforce returns looking like Anna-Nicole Smith playing the part of Marilyn Monroe in an act that once again looks good but lacks substance, and seems to take an age to reach its predictable conclusion.
Fortunately there is enough quality to keep the show from deflating too much, and to end the show on a high. Louis Biggs returns with a technically accomplished hat juggling act which initially seems a little too understated for such a large room, though by the end his charm and skill have won the audience over. The Evil Hate Monkey gets the biggest laughs of the night with a hilariously suggestive banana-peeling act complete with stunned audience interaction, and later with his award-winning ballerina act (and another banana).
Captain Kidd’s closing act is all Vegas decadence, with an utterly spectacular tropical bird costume and a great take on the champagne glass act. He takes delight in giving the front few rows of the audience an early bath as he swings from a trapeze with wild abandon, leaving quite a mess.
Briefs: The Second Coming is a show which has moments of brilliance, including some top-class circus and boylesque performances. It falls short of perfection largely due to a patchy middle section, but is well worth catching while it’s here.
BRIEFS: The Second Coming reviewed by James Lee.
You can experience BRIEFS: The Second Coming at London Wonderground until 28th September. Visit this link for details and to buy tickets.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.