Cabaret Review: Briefs: The Second Coming (London Wonderground, London)

Evil Hate Monkey expertly plays with Captain Kidd's ring! Photograph: Courtesy of Roy Tan.

Evil Hate Monkey expertly plays with Captain Kidd’s ring! Photograph: Courtesy of Roy Tan.

Rating: *****

In A Nutshell

Outrageous, arousing, and utterly gob-smacking. Rethink everything you thought you ever knew about circus and burlesque, because you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Overview

Aussie performance troupe return to London Wonderground with their show Briefs: The Second Coming, after a successful stint at Glastonbury, with several new and rebooted elements. A fusion of circus, cabaret, drag, and burlesque, it’s the most surprising, sexy, and scandalous show the capital has ever seen.

Production

Everything is as slick, glitzy, and sumptuous as you could ever imagine. For starters, the costumes really are as show-stopping as the acts themselves: this is by no means the bargain bin at Anne Summers. The outfits are as intricate as they are provocative, and impress as much as they titillate. Yet the attire is just the first glimpse of a high-end and meticulous production that is hidden behind the show’s anarchic energy and inglorious affront.

Particularly, there is a real attention and embrace of aesthetics here that take this far beyond being a mere pumped-up peep show. Everything from UV osterich feathers, to well executed lighting design, really augment the acts. The performers themselves already have an intrinsic sense of visual artistry in what they do. But the production just makes these into even more stunning moments, turning them into gasp-out-loud acts of daring debauchery.

A tiny criticism is that some of the interludes (particularly in covering set changes) means the pace can sometimes drop too quickly from heart-pounding sexual octane or dizzying acrobatics, leaving you a little bewildered and agitated as it’s an awkward come down. However, these bits of padding thankfully have their own sense of joy that make them feel as integral to the show as the more rehearsed and climactic sequences.

One other criticism is that there is one moment that probably takes good/bad taste a little too far, and is certainly not something that is for the weak of stomach. Whilst merely attending a male drag burlesque show means you’re not one to be easily offended, one particular scene (not giving too much away) does push comfort zones a little too much; some may find it rather unnecessary even within the pervy pretext of the show. But as long as you view it as outlandish and risqué as the rest of the evening, you’ll still be able to at least produce a shriek and a guffaw between the dry-retching!

Performers

Every performer in the show brings something as unique and amazing as the next. But as a troupe, they bristle with a filthy wit and eroticism that is unmatched by anything else that you’ll have ever seen. Hostess Fez Faanana/Shivannah is as sassy a drag queen compère at they come, adding a ridiculous camp and sharp glamour to the proceedings as she expertly works the crowd. Dallas Dellaforce’s drag interludes are also salacious and shocking, making “Priscilla” look tacky and tame by comparison.

Physical performers Captain Kidd, Evil Hate Monkey, Thom Worrell, and Louis Biggs are all also at the prime of their talent, absolutely wowing you in such a manner that they take you from behind by complete surprise. There are moments where your jaws will drop with amazement (or cringe in disbelief) at just how astonishing their skills are. Even if you’ve seen these kind of circus acts before, these boys pull out all the stops, raising the bar and executing some genuinely unique and gob-smacking tricks that really makes this a superlative spectacle. You just can’t wait to see what feat they’re going to pull next as well as what item of clothing will disappear with it. Particular mention must go to Captain Kidd, who’s “birdbath” grand finale takes your breath away, whilst simultaneously making you literally wet with excitement (especially if you’re in the first few rows).

These are also a band of performers who are sexy and know it. I know it’s a little cheap to so openly lust over performers in a review, but if a burlesque night doesn’t make your groins stir with delight then it’s not doing its job properly. And, by Jove, do these boys know how to get your blood pumping to those more intimate areas. They revel in the knowing fact that they are some of the most achingly gorgeous performers on the circuit, and do their best to expertly tease as they do dazzle. But even then, they play with both being cheeky and humorous by sending up traditional burlesque with steamy satire, as well as pushing the modern boundaries of the genre. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a yo-yo again without getting at least a semi!

Verdict

Put this altogether and there were moments where I didn’t know whether to applaud wildly, laugh, be reviled, or cross my legs! Hot, haughty, and hilarious, this a mesmerising kaleidoscope of sleaze and mind-blowing performances unlike anything else. I’ve never wanted to run away to the circus so badly! #woof

[youtube http://youtu.be/Ft7WxWbON2s]

Briefs: The Second Coming plays at the London Wonderground, London, SE1 8XX, until 28 September 2014. Tickets are £16.50-£21.50. To book, visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk.

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