If you suspect an all-boy burlesque troupe’s act would be riddled with dick jokes, Briefs will not disappoint you. Sold as ‘Cirque du Soleil meets RuPaul’s Drag Race’, this has more Peters than the board of an ASX 200 company.
The rollicking 75 minute show – which ran for more like 105 minutes on opening night – follows a classic revue format: a bit of drag here, an acrobatics act there, and some intensely sexual clowning. But the best bits of the show combine all three.
Those who’ve been raised on a filthy and fabulous diet of John Waters and ball culture will find plenty of easter eggs. In one of the night’s most memorable sketches a classic drag walk is given a doggie twist, when acrobats in canine masks accompany their three owners (Dallas Dellaforce serving aristo-Lady Gaga, Fez Fa’anana doing fly girl realness and Captain Kidd in bizarre Gold Coast cashed up bogan regalia) on stage, before performing a series of pulse-quickening hoop jumps. If you think a queen and a dog is the Chekhov's gun of drag, then the third act of this bit will not disappoint you. If you haven’t seen Pink Flamingos then you’re in for a very rude shock.
As an MC, Fez Fa’anana is appealingly vulnerable. Between teaching the audience sassy hand gestures and throwing shade on Ipswitch, she engages just enough with class, race and gender politics to remind us that drag’s rapier wit has always been deployed as a self-defence mechanism. Whatever Peter Cook had to say about the efficacy of “those wonderful Berlin cabarets”, there is a strong culture of resistance in drag and cabaret and this show gently progresses that agenda. The subversion works best when it’s mining Aussie macho culture for homoerotic kicks; like when two blokes in pristine white short shorts and mullets, the love children of Warwick Capper and young Lleyton Hewitt. do a strip tease together between skipping reps.
Meanwhile Thomas Worrell’s sensual work with aerial hoops and silks brings to mind a gender flipped comic book character, all rippling muscles and provocative poses.
Though the show ran overtime the night we attended, it never seemed to lag. And if audiences do get droopy-eyed at an 11.30pm performance, Captain Kidd’s penultimate bird bath routine, which sees the front three rows of the venue cowering under a translucent tarp as great sheets of water wash over them with athletic vigor, will certainly wake them up again.
Briefs is weird and wild with a banging soundtrack and just enough purpose to make it feel worth it – not worthy. If you like your cabaret served with a body shot of tequila from a young Adonis’s chest, then it’s your golden ticket (or shower, depending on where you sit).