Briefs. So it only seemed incredibly fitting that I close out the 2015 Fringe with Briefs: The Second Coming (and as it turns out, I was the only person in the finale night crowd that had seen the previous show, or at least was brave enough to admit it when asked).
And what a difference those five years have made to the House That Fez Fa'anana Built! What was only the smallest seed the first time has flowered into something glorious... and this show is properly boylesque, and seriously sexy.
I totally screamed my lungs out and also clapped until my hands were properly pink and a tiny bit numb for essentially the whole show.
It's not really a huge surprise that they won the Fringe Award for Best Circus and Physical Theatre this year.
Fa'anana, self proclaimed ringmaster and bearded lady, is everything you could want from somebody in charge of this powderkeg of a show. I wouldn't in a million years want to get on his bad side, but at the same time Fez has a heart three times the size of the biggest wig in their collection and a wicked sense of humour.
But let me just state here and now that my heart belonged to Louis Biggs from the first moment I saw him... okay maybe not the first moment, although he was the cast member I most wanted to buy a raffle ticket from as they mingled with the audience (more on that in a second), and when he came out to do his first number as a naughty schoolboy with his Rubix cube and his obscene yo-yo tricks, I was in fact completely smitten (and yes, I may have asked for a little kiss on the cheek after I bought some of their merch post show, and yes, I may have gotten one... and yes, I may be the most gigantic dork that has ever walked the face of the earth).
On top of him being great at what he does (seriously, one handed Rubix cube solving... plus yo-yo, plus breakdancing and hat juggling), and the fact that he has this wonderfully cheeky stage persona that shines through everything he's doing and just make you want to hug him... after all of that is said and done, he's just a sexy, sexy, sexy man (his bare butt in the mostly backless/thong finale costume... I died!), but all the more so because of his personality.
Which made me doubly jealous when it turned out that the raffle prize was a bodyshot of tequila using Bigg's body.
And speaking of sexy men, it's absolutely no surprise that new recruit Thomas Worrell was nominated as one of the best emerging artists in the Fringe Awards, because the young contortionist, aerialist and hand-balancer is amazing to watch... especially with his work in the aerial hoop. There is just something so incredibly elegant and graceful about him.
Overall the show doesn't take itself itself the least bit seriously... which isn't to say that there aren't some serious elements but everything is done with a sense of humour, bitchy or otherwise. From Fez's rule that phones should not be seen lest you kill one of the performers, to the entire gay fetish/dog show routine with the unexpected and unsettling ending thanks to Captain Kidd and Evil Hate Monkey.
Actually Monkey was wonderful... crazy as the proverbial barrel of monkeys, and twice as crude, but fun to watch when you're not on the receiving end of inappropriate banana touching.
Captain Kidd is, for all intents and purposes, a Disney Villain come to life. He's very talented and has an amazing body, but frankly I'm a little scared of him. He's what you would call angry-sexy. He also wonderfully subverts the tropes of both the "boy in the bath" and true burlesque shows with his very acrobatic but also incredibly wet finale number in a big plastic bird bath.
Actually that's one of the things that Briefs does quite often... it feels like a properly subversive show in a lot of ways. It's guys, but it's burlesque. It's feathers and frocks and sequins and glitter, but it's hard male bodies, hairy chests, beards and strength. It's light and fluffy, but it's raunchy and occasionally incredibly crass and filthy. It's funny and entertaining, but it has serious comments to make about people and being present in the moment and what it means to be an artistic company in 2015.
In the interests of full disclosure, Dallas Dellaforce was the only cast member I didn't really warm to... I can in no way fault his work as costume designer extraordinary putting together all the costumes for the show, but that particular style of performance art drag isn't my particular cup of tea. Although having said that, the number with the treadmill, wind machine and "hair dress" was brilliant.
Like with all shows that have a mix of acts (and especially when it's a two hour show like this one), there's always going to be something that doesn't appeal, but in this particular case, the good things about Briefs far, far, far outweigh anything I didn't like.
And hopefully it doesn't take them five more years to come back again.