I have a confession to make. I get really, really bored during any live show. As much as I’d love to say theatre and performance art have a visceral and profound effect on me, I sit through most live shows just thinking I’d rather be in a basement in Dalston downing tequila shots. Or sucking cock.
I got bored when I saw The Tempest at the Globe Theatre. I got bored when I saw The Lion starring Joanna Lumley. I got REALLY bored when I saw Wicked at The Apollo. I even got bored when I saw Lana Del Rey last week, and she’s one of my absolute favourites. Mind you, she was probably bored too. She’s always bored. She is apathy incarnate, surfeited discontent at its most heady and glamorous.
I’m not saying these things don’t have merit. In fact, they were all markedly brilliant shows (except Wicked). It’s just ME who gets bored. Like so many millenials, I have a snapchat-length, 140 character attention span. I’m also quite unshockable. Once you’ve seen Vanity von Glow get in a drunken fight with a rickshaw (and win!) everything else pales in comparison.
It was a welcome surprise therefore, when Briefs at Underbelly not only ENTERTAINED ME for a full 90 minutes (!) but also, by turns, stimulated, aroused, touched and floored me. Actual reactions! Actual feelings! I was, in the eternal words of Kim Kardashian, shooketh! Millenial enough for ya?
Jokes aside though, Briefs is easily the best show I’ve seen in the last five years. It is instantly engaging, diverting and infectious. And one of the most genius things about it, is that you can’t really put your finger on why. It might be because, in a world where we’re saturated every second of every day with entertainment, it’s something a little different.
To describe it in simple terms, it’s a queer “boylesque” type of affair. But that comes nowhere close to doing it justice. It’s a celestial, salacious journey into sequin-spattered hyperspace. It encourages free thought, and happiness, and freedom. Vladimir Putin would HATE it (or, actually, he’d secretly love it – particularly the scientist’s strip-tease).
I won’t go into the finer details too much, because it’s the sort of show where the lure of the unexpected is key. But highlights include a death-defying and deeply erotic trapeze-style act from gorgeous Thomas Worrell, major hosting skills from Fez Faanana, and a beguiling, madcap and hilarious turn from much loved alt-cabaret performer Harry Clayton-Wright – the best way I can describe it is as Lady Chatterley’s Lover on acid.
One of the best things about the show is the music. Female electronic pioneers like Kate Bush, Roisin Murphy and Bjork, ululate and hum over a careening mash-up of space noises and soundtracks from iconic sci-fi movies. At one point, fabulously, Sigourney Weaver screeches “GET AWAY FROM HER YOU BITCH!”
Basically, get off Twitter, stop Instagramming that Byron burger, and go and see Briefs. It’s unexpected, it’s adventurous, it’s pure imagination, pure escapism, pure talent, pure sex, pure thrills, pure insanity, pure…joy. And god knows, here, now, in 2017, we’re in desperate need of ALL of those things.
Briefs is at Underbelly Festival, South Bank, until September 30th. More info and tickets here.