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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Briefs: Bite Club

Briefs Factory

Genre: Circus

Venue: Underbelly Circus Hub on the Meadows


Low Down

Drags meets circus in a beautifully choreographed concert


Is it a drag show? Is it a circus? Is it a concert? Is it burlesque? Is it modern dance?  It’s a bit of all of those things.  Defying genre, Briefs: Bite Club takes you into a new world of fantasy and fun in a tight 70 minutes.

From the opening number where the performers come out through the audience clad in giant feathers, you know to strap in for quite a ride.  Each of the five male artists is initially costumed in a unique outfit:  a cowboy, black leather, a shapeless dress and heels, a silver clown-like outfit, a blue wig and scant clothing.  This culminates in a Rockettes-style high-kick routine. You can’t get much more camp than that – or can you?  The Ringmaster/MC comes out in a headpiece similar to the U.S. Statue of Liberty, a white dinner jacket with sequin trim, and high heels.  He introduces himself as from Samoa and explains that this is a brand new show for the Fringe.  His comedy carries the transitions in the show as well as handily engages the audience throughout the performance.

All of the routines are paired with original songs by Sahara Beck, a hugely talented Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist whose voice is ethereal. Her music is played on radio stations internationally.  Her songs range from contemplative to bold and powerful. Her talented band is comprised of a keyboard player, drummer, and guitarist.  This is the first collaboration between Sahara and the circus and it works brilliantly. Each of her songs sets the mood for the cabaret or circus routine, enhancing the presentation.

There are multiple costume changes.  A Fred Astaire-type comes through the audience, very debonair, then proceeds to do a strip routine. A gymnast dressed like an aviator runs on a treadmill, trying to impress Sahara, including moon-walking – and taking off clothes. There are black and white dancing mirrored mimes. There is a bathing scene with the support artists in white swim caps and the lead acrobat in a thong – in a Plexiglas bathtub, from which he executes a flawless trapeze routine. There is a very clever “battle” between the drummer using sticks on the floor and the juggler who continues to up the game by adding more balls and more complex rhythms.  There are silly bits with the dancers dressed as flowers and animals in a garden scene with someone who has been selected from the audience.

All of the performers are highly skilled circus artists. They juggle, spin hoops, execute aerial silks, perform balancing acts, fly on the trapeze, and more. They are well-chiseled and very strong.  What sets this apart from other circus shows is the dramatic staging, the effective use of lighting, the excellent pairing with the music, the split-second timing, and the inventive skits.

Special kudos were given to the hard-working behind-the-scenes crews that make it possible to stage this multi-dimensional and complex program.

The show is bold and ground-breaking. It is not for the faint-of-heart and definitely not for kids.  There is nudity and language aimed only at an adult audience, but that is all in the service of providing a really fun evening.  And the audience loved every minute of the show, giving the performers a well-earned standing ovation at the end.

The show is produced by Briefs Factory, and Australian creative collective who manufacture, cultivate and present evocative, irreverent, physical performance.