The Famous Spiegel Garden,
Senate Rose Garden, Canberra until 22nd March.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
It’s doubtful that Canberra has seen a raunchier, cheekier or more dazzlingly daring entertainment than this current offering at the Famous Spiegel Garden. Hosted by Fez Fanaana, a pleasant, potty-mouthed drag queen with a beard, who confesses that his only skill is changing outfits between acts (but who towards the end of the show flashes some seriously impressive dance moves), “Briefs” is a delightfully subversive entertainment, a slick, if deliberately chaotic excursion, into the realm of male burlesque and alternative circus.
Dressed in neat business suits, the six men who make up the cast take to the stage. With the aid of feather fans, the suits are quickly disposed of in a cleverly choreographed and neatly executed routine. From then on costumes come and go rather rapidly in a succession of finely honed acrobatic routines.
Muscular Mark Winnell brought gasps from the audience, twisting and turning precariously above their heads in a slack rope act which won him first prize at the 2011 Las Vegas Boylesque competition. Newcomer, Ben Lewis, whose parents were in the audience, pushed his body beyond reasonable limits in an amazing high strap act. Heavily tattooed Natano Fanaana, who won the Melbourne Fringe Circus Oz Award, impressed with his ability to manipulate himself gracefully suspended on silk straps. The handsomely moustachioed Johnny Domino brought back memories of old-time strongmen, while Davy Gravy, definitely the least muscular of the cast, demonstrated some unusual uses for a meat tray.
Be warned, “Briefs” is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended, but the adventurous will be rewarded with a first rate show which not only pushes the boundaries, but is also surprisingly funny and engaging.