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A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!






LRN Briefs Final A5 v2 UB London Final  (1).jpg


All Male – All Vaudeville – All Trash

London Wonderground


4 – 14 July 2012

All the briefing you need to be able to appreciate this funny, crass, OTT show is that it’s like a manic, three ring circus, compressed into one spangley, tattooed, feather capped, irreverent, act filled hour.  

Starting off with a Windmill type burlesque strip tease of sorts that put me in mind of a ‘Secretary’s Night’ I attended once, on which occasion, a guy took it all off to ‘Nine to Five,’ the six cast members, in  suits lined-up and simultaneously tore them off, (to a N.O. Brass Band), there the similarities ended!

As its tranny ring-leader confessed at the outset, ‘We didn’t think we’d ever make it out of the back room of that book store in Brisbane…the cultural black hole of Australia.’ But make it out they did, and boy, are they out there! But this show’s at its best when it’s sassy and unpretentious, rapidly smashing one convention after another, whether circus or otherwise. The ‘other’ includes some buff but pretty sleazy and laughably masculine looking cross dress vougeing with minis, wigs, heels, and a heavy slathering of paint. Cross dressing always seems funnier when it’s obviously, all wrong, a la Chocolate. Our ‘hostess’ intermittently delivered some screamingly funny monologues, hitting directly at pretensions about society, race and sex kitten, so called femininity with a stiletto pointedly ground in.

Lucky’s, seemingly, just a good looking lug playing step and fetch it here, as he brings things to and fro for the ‘girls’ or plays red-neck bystander, though he takes a pretty daunting tumble or two or three to avoid the spotlight! Davey Gravy aka ‘Mr. Deadpan’ offers laugh out loud acrobatics, juggling and balancing, with a bit of comic burlesque thrown in for off-beat measure - a circus performer with a twisted/trad-edge. ‘New Boy’ Johnny Domino is the proverbial strong-man only more rarely sliced beef-cake and scantily clad. His slicked back hair and handle-bar moustache add to the humour as two of the mega painted and wigged ‘girls’ feel his pecks and lounge behind in some very un-lady like positions!

I’ve mentioned circus first of all, because that’s when this show’s at its most impressive, as all of its circus acts are truly, original, even if they do involve allegedly old standbys like spinning plates or twirling on ropes. The stellar way in which those things are enacted here really does have to be seen to be taken in properly – words won’t do it. So if you’re into top flight comedic circus, get down to Briefs!

The Euro-trash elements of the show are fun too, even if at one point, they teeter precariously on that oft nearly indistinguishable line between liberation and misogyny. Outlook is in the eyes of the beholder.

Sound is also full on here, with music speeding up at opportune moments, heightening otherwise low-tech comic effects, or making raunchy seem even raunchier. But hey, live and let live, anything off-colour heard here, is heard in spades in any late night street/bus/train station back in the States. (Apologies if I’ve disillusioned those still viewing the US as a land of soda fountains and convertibles)

Speaking of which, we were also graced here by Las Vegas’ finest, recently voted ‘The King of Burlesque’ at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, and, ‘Most Dazzling Performer.’ (Aren’t you jealous? Meow, scratch, scratch…) Who, proceeded to live up to his hard won razzle-dazzle by performing a bewitching act on ropes, lowering and raising himself as effortlessly as a firefly, pausing in mid air as casually as though he was stopping at the local bistro for an light chat… As magical an aerial ballet as I can recall seeing.

Earlier on in this multi-faceted hour, we’d been awed by an entrancing show of grace and strength from a performer who is also, a Samoan man, who, who, by way of introduction, showed a short film entitled, Tap, capturing his obviously painful, tapped, ritualistic, rite of passage dark blue tattooing pattern, spanning his lower torso and legs, over and below his knees. We admired the results of his eleven day tattooing session as he effectively danced in the air, in his case, very athletically but smoothly, dramatically enabling his red ‘ribbons’ to halt his fall to the ground seconds before he was set to crash.

A personal, favourite moment was when two ‘girls’ squared off for a cat fight, at the OK Meow, manes of hair flicking, fake nails and eyelashes twitching…!

In between everything, there was always our diva host’s costume and wig changes to admire, which, once prompted, were greeted with cheers and wolf whistles which made him bristle, but preen on cue.

Blended together and taken straight up, Briefs is brash, trashy circus meets vaudeville with bags of glitzy, guilt-free pleasure thrown in for good measure - just the thing for late night viewing through a somewhat sauced up lens. The raucous crowd in the Wonderground realized and acknowledged that with great enthusiasm.  

By the end, I had to admit that it’d been liberating watching performers do their things, especially when some of the things they do are as impossible to duplicate as the feats being done here. If the Bard had said, ‘What a piece of work is man’ now, he might have been talking about these fellows. Viva la Briefs!

Go on… grab a little bit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, right here in London, at the Wonderground!
1 hour
10 – 14 July
21:00 (9pm) hours
Priceless London Wonderground
Jubilee Gardens
Off Belvedere Road
0844 545 8282
Briefs on Tour:
Gorff 19, 20 & 21 July – 8pm
Stiwdio Weston Studio
Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place, Cardiff Bay
CF10 – 5AL
029 2063 6464
27 & 28 July, 8pm
Salford Quays
The Lowry
Pier 8, Salford Quays
M50, 3AZ
0843 208 6010
1 – 27 August (not 15) 11:15 pm
Edinburgh, The Fringe
The Udderbelly
Cow Pasture
Bristo Square
0844 545 8252


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