Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Briefs; An all male cabaret extravaganza with high flying aerial, a real life strong man, outrageous drag and many costume changes. Excellent circus skills and sexy boylesque is hosted by witty and the ravishing razor sharp drag queen Shivanna. Briefs is a wonderful piece of showmanship and a guaranteed good night out. This show also includes a raffle for the meat tray, which is totally worth the gamble.
Briefs; An all male cabaret extravaganza with high flying aerial, a real life strong man, outrageous drag and many costume changes. Excellent circus skills and sexy boylesque is hosted by witty and ravishing razor sharp drag queen Shivanna. Briefs is a wonderful piece of showmanship and a guaranteed good night out. This show also includes a raffle for the meat tray, which is totally worth the gamble.
The performers hang about in the stalls as we take our seats, dressed in the smart suits and strike up friendly banter. The music is playing loudly (Boy’s by Britney Spears) and everyone feels excited. The music changes and all the performers jump on stage and strip down to their briefs in a wonderful display of acrobatics. Its trashy and full of pink feather fans but the display of physical control in the acrobatic routine adds an extra layer to this opening, it is well choreographed and impressive.
Brief’s host and ringmaster is Shivanna a wonderful drag with ‘size 17’ shoes, he tells us the tale of Brief’s starting up in Brisbane at the back of a bookstore because that’s all they could afford. Savannah is a brilliant host; crude, friendly, informative, self-aware, politically feisty and references both the arts industry and her cultural background with cutting honesty that is both funny and refreshing.
The circus acts where extremely accomplished both in skill and performance; in particular the Arial work was stunning and completely intoxicating to watch. The men really know how to work the audience and portray themselves, on par with female burlesque, as super sexy through physicality and sheer balls. They are ballsy and beautiful, and well trained.
We were treated to Davy Gravy’s plate spinning; Davy Gravy is the clown – banking knowingly on his pale slight figure (with a lovely pot belly) for physical comedy in comparison to the rest of the built and bronzed cast. Davy Gravy’s plate spinning is perfectly pitched, and achieved with grace – the true attention on his face carries the action and his pauses for applause are cheeky. He is completely aware that plate spinning is not the top act of the circus but makes it so through charm and comic ability. Once all 12 plates are spinning Davy leaves the stage, and we watch them all drop. Honestly, it’s hilarious, leave a whole audience alone with just two plates spinning and we make our own fun… ooooh-ing and giggling…until the last on falls…and raptures of applause arise for these plates. This is one of the very clever directional decisions from the company.
Throughout the show a bucket is passed around the crowd with raffle tickets, it costs a £1 for a ticket; this raffle is for the meat tray, a traditional prize at many fairs and fetes. Sally won the meat tray on this occasion and is pulled on stage to receive her prize. The Meat Tray is presented by Davy Gravy via a raucous lap dance… the meat is well wrapped in cellophane but seems to incite a lot of excitement in Davy. Sally leaves speechless and meat laden.
Another highlight and wonderful reference to traditional circus, is the Strong Man. Yellow Pages and a Frying Pan are no match for this man. He even carried two drag queens balanced on the end of a bar over his shoulders, his faced strained as the two ladies swayed their legs and smiled.
The ‘token native’ is given much introduction from Shivanna as the trick they pulled to get Australian funding; we are told he’s going to give a powerpoint presentation and not to expect much. The film is called ‘tap’ and shows a small Samoan man going through a traditional tattooing ritual in which he is tattooed from the waist to his knees. It looks extremely painful and takes 11 days; this ritual is how Samoan men accrue status and land. It is a very powerful film and an appreciated incite into an indigenous culture. The film adds extreme weight to the act that follows; the man featured enters displaying his full tattoo and takes to the silks to perform an expert aerial routine.
Each performance is creatively introduced and then delivered with rigor and flare, the variety between acts is rich, and the personality of each performer has been considered and formed well. The musical accompaniment to each act is spot on and equally as creative. The work is crude and trashy and so knowing of it’s self, and celebratory that it is pulled off with success.
Shivanna close’s the show with a strip tease and version of Wendy Ho’s ‘F*ck me’ (a rewriting of Brenda Russel’s ‘Get here’). Stripping from wigged and bedecked with jewels, through corset and hosiery, down to just plain white briefs and standing as a man.
Transforming from drag down to man stirred my emotions, I found it honest and exposing, very real and expressing both the character of drag and the man underneath the make-up.
Cabaret should be feisty, politically and socially challenging and full of skill – Within this field of cabaret and contemporary circus Brief’s excels – and is glitzy gay fantastic!