Pros: Hot boys, fierce dancing, electric soundtrack and astronomical stunts.
Cons: Bitch please.
The Underbelly Festival on the Southbank is a definite summer highlight for Londoners. The vibe, the energy and the sunsets are always electrifying. Sadly, due to more London regeneration, the area where the majestic giant upside-down purple cow once stood is now an empty hole with building work. Sad times. However, we remain undefeated as the glorious spiegeltent is as erect as ever and ready to serve. If you’re an Underbelly stalwart you’ve probably heard of or seen Briefs before. If not, where have you been, trashbag? Briefs are back, bitches, and their new incarnation, Briefs: Close Encounters, is so stratospheric that your retinas will never recover, darling.
Brighter, bolder, buffer – this show is like no other. Crashing from the future onto the Southbank, Close Encounters is a rocket-fuelled joyride and everyone from all walks of life is invited. Buckle up, ignore Brexit, ignore the DUP and get on board, bitches. Their last show, The Second Coming, was a sellout smash in 2016, so the pressure was on for the boys down under to bring something new to their beloved London fanbase – and they didn’t disappoint. In Close Encounters, and in their infamous glitter-bombing style, the seven dynamic lads set out to explore your third dimension and test all limits of masculinity and decency. I had the pleasure of popping my friend’s Briefs cherry on press night and just watching her eyes light up as we took our front-row seats. Being offered a raffle ticket from a stripper from outer space was magical, and perfectly set the tone for the night. As the lights faded the crowd cheered, and in the darkness we heard those five iconic tones from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and roared with laughter. We all knew that, for the next 75 minutes, we were definitely not alone.
Through interstellar lighting and out-of-this-world trickery, the spielgtent is transformed into the Briefs mothership. At her sparkly helm is the all-seeing and all-knowing Commander Shivannah, played by the always fabulous Fez Faanana. With her acid tongue (‘Don’t touch me!’) and fierce costumes, she steers us and her glittered crew through this fast-paced show while taking no prisoners. Her crew consists of six dynamic otherworldly specimens, all offering any kind of probing the new passengers on board may require in the blink of an eye or sashay of a thong. The talent, and packaging, in all these lads is kaleidoscopic. The aerial stunts are performed to perfection by one of Australia’s leading aerialists, Thomas Worrell, who defies gravity by putting himself into positions that would make a nun nervous! More aerial athletics came from the award-winning Captain Kidd, who was bedazzling. There’s some stunning dance and physical malleability from hunky Thomas Gundry Greenfield, who also performs a heartbreakingly hilarious duet with Briefs newcomer Harry Clayton-Wright which was a show highlight. What Clayton-Wright can do with an angle grinder deserves its own show. Dale Woodbridge Brown brought much hilarity and hyperdrive flair with his baton-twirling white rabbit. The dashing Louis Biggs set his phaser to stun, bewitching us all with his balls. As the show came to its heightened climax, we were all wishing for close encounters with each and every one of them.
The soundtrack is one big bang on the senses. From Kate Bush to Björk and Cut Chemist to Fake Blood (all mixed in with an amazing ‘Get away from her, you bitch!’ from Sigourney Weaver), the music is at warp speed throughout.
Briefs: Close Encounters presents us with a future that is bright and where life doesn’t suck. So I urge you to beam yourself up and go see this spectacle, otherwise you’ll be… jealous (follow drag queen’s instructions on how to say this word with your right hand).
Director: Fez Faanana
Musical Director: Kim Bowers
Booking Until: 30 September 2017
Booking Link: http://www.underbellyfestival.com/whats-on/briefs