The Briefs 'Bite Club' 'arty dinner party' was a fabulous way to welcome back audiences and entertainers who thought they wouldn’t get a chance to perform at all in this dumpster fire of a year.
The need for connection and creativity was the central theme of this celebration of the arts, with host and MC Shivanna delivering heartfelt monologues throughout the show about what being able to perform again has meant to the troupe.
For those who have been to a Briefs show before, it will not surprise you to hear that there were g-strings, bare bottoms and feather fans galore, and even a cheeky penis on display. The circus skills and dancing were – as ever – incredible demonstrations of talent, hard work and rippling muscle, what these guys can do suspended in the air while wet and basically naked is awe-inspiring! The individual cabaret/dance/circus numbers were creative, daring and fun to watch, which is exactly what you hope a Briefs evening will be.
What elevated the evening beyond the merely fabulous, however, were Briefs' collaboration with two additional artists. Sahara Beck and her band were a great foil for the Briefs performers. Her voice is radio-perfect: there was not a note out of place, no tone was pitchy and she was both glamourous and sassy, fitting in well with the night’s theme. Her all-male band also got in on the act, dressing up and interacting with their spangly, glittery team mates. Sahara was very much a standout, and I think the vast majority of the audience will be Googling her today to see how they can buy her music.
While the artists were clearly trying to take turns in the spotlight, with Briefs taking the lead in one set, Sahara taking centre stage in the next, the melding of the acts could have been better. For example, the act where Briefs stood behind the band members with sock puppets needed to be better developed: it felt too much like filler rather than the best these very talented creatives could do.
The absolute star of the show, however, was Shivanna’s mum. In a nod once again to the importance of connection and relationships this year, Mum played the ukulele to 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' while Sahara sang. Shivanna’s family hails from Samoa, and the ukulele is a common instrument in the Pacific. Mum was also dressed traditionally, including a headdress. Bringing in part of this family culture in this way was clearly emotional and authentic.
At the end, Mum was dragged back up on stage for the final bow, trying to hide behind the curtain, and the audience leapt to its feet. The connection between Shivanna and Mum, and the pride, was what we all needed after 2020, and made this opening night just what we all needed. 'Bite Club' is on at The Tivoli (Brisbane) until 21 December.