Well the big purple cow may have gone up north for a while but that doesn’t mean the fun is over on the South Bank and taking up residence in the Spiegeltent for the next twelve weeks are a group of talented chaps from Australia who plan to totally blow your mind as they take you to a galaxy far, far away. Welcome to Briefs: Close Encounters.
Sometimes you can gauge the type of show you are about to see by the audience. And the first thing to notice about this group was how excited they were. The queue to get into the tent started about half an hour before the doors opened. Lots of very excited looking people stood laughing together waiting to be let in. Once in, people who had seen the Briefs boys before headed to their favourite seats while everyone milled around – all the seating is unallocated. My companion and I managed to grab a couple of seats in the front row and were prepared for anything.
The lights went down and, before anything else happened, there was an almighty cheer from the audience. Then the familiar five notes from Close Encounters started up accompanied by lights and the show started.
The next hour was an absolute blur. The six, muscular and very uninhibited performers, led by the strikingly beautiful Fez Fa’anana, perform a show which is an astounding mixture of acrobatics, gymnastics, modern dance, burlesque, striptease and high camp. However, that’s not to say that this is a gay show. There is a beauty to Briefs that transcends sexuality and makes it suitable – apart from the odd ‘F’ word – for everyone. Straight, gay or somewhere on the spectrum in between, Close Encounters has something for everyone and nobody is left out.
Just on a technical level, the skill exhibited by the performers is exceptionally high. For example, could you perform a strip whilst spinning off a rope high above the stage? Me neither but Mark ‘Captain Kidd’ Winmill does with a grace and style that takes the breath away. Mix this technical skill with a real flair for showmanship and you begin to understand why Briefs is so good. As with all things acrobatic or gymnastic or circus related, spot on timing is a must. However, one of the most amazing demonstrations of timing, which really demonstrated the immense attention to detail of the show, involved a rabbit and some alarm clocks. These were very short scenes but the ability to synchronise every movement of the rabbit with the alarms ringing and do so with such ease must take hours and hours of practice. One portion of a second out and the illusion is ruined.
With such talented performers on the stage, it’s hard to pick out a personal favourite but, I will. Juggler Louis Biggs, the youngest of the troupe, is my choice. He looks amazing, dances, juggles, does a Rubik’s Cube one-handed and even throws a little science in. And while doing all of this, Louis manages to spectacularly flirt with every member of the audience he makes eye contact with.
Without giving too much more away, I have to conclude with two things. Briefs: Close Encounters is a truly awesome mixture of styles and skills that will entertain and enthrall you in equal measure. And secondly, when you go to see it, buy a raffle ticket. You may not win but if you do, the prize will be so worth it.
Southern Baptist Sissies
Above the Stag is a theatre that specialises in putting on LGBT+ shows. I’ve been there a couple of times previously and seen some very well produced and very funny plays about gay life. So, I was really looking forward to another visit last night to see their latest show, the European premiere of Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores.
This is the story of four people emerging from childhood and becoming adults. These boys are all from the great state of Texas – the ‘buckle’ in the bible belt – and all are regular attendees at their small town Baptist church presided over by a real old fashioned ‘wrath of God’ style preacher (Stephen Parker). The four boys are all really good friends who each bring something different to the group. So, there is preacher’s son Mark (Jason Kirk) the thinker, TJ (Daniel Klemens) the brawn, Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell) the introverted and…
So, I wrote a review for this play for http://www.carnstheatrepassion.com/review-snapshot/ but I also wanted to write another. to see if I could effectively write two reviews for the same play but make each review distinct in its style. So, if you fancy another read of my thoughts then read on................
As I charge headlong into the twilight years of life I do start to wonder if human beings really should be in relationships at all. I know as we go through our teens, twenties, etc we all look for that one person to settle down with but as a species, are we really that monogamous? This question has sprung to mind after seeing George Johnston’s new play Snapshot at The Hope Theatre in Islington. Foreign Currency trader Daniel (Joey Akubeze) is doing OK. Let’s be honest he is doing better than OK. Well educated - private school then Magdalene College, Cambridge - He now earns a significant salary - the likes of which we mere mortals can only dream - and has a lovely apartment in le…
The Chemsex Monologues at the King’s Head Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet
Some of you may have heard of an app called Grindr. It is a social app for gay men that enables them to chat and arrange to meet up. Okay, it may be a bit more than that but once again I must remember my mother reads these things. Anyway, if I was to download it and switch it on now, two things would become apparent very quickly. The first is that a lot of people take really bad photographs which seem to cut off their heads and the second is that the world is divided into those that say ‘chems OK’ and those that say ‘No Chems’. Being firmly on the ‘No Chems’ side, it is interesting to delve, if only briefly, on the other. Such an opportunity is available as Patrick Cash’s play The Chemsex Monologues makes a welcome return to the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
As the title suggests, The Chemsex Monologues are a series …