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Review: Briefs – Close Encounters

Cabaret Festival

A whirling conglomerate of circus skills, burlesque and high-camp theatrics, Close Encounters is an asteroid belt of sassy, sexy mayhem.

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It’s the latest show from Brizzie boylesque band Briefs, and it’s funny, flirty, kooky, trashy, a little bit haphazard at times (balls are dropped, hoops fly into the audience) but a whole lot of fun.

The show opens with those signature five notes from the Close Encounters film and a space-age dance routine that morphs (curiously) into a jungle number.

From Barry White to Cut Chemist, the soundtrack is as eclectic as the talent on show – and there’s no doubt these guys have talent.

Thomas Gundry Greenfield gives a truly beautiful dance performance while removing a surprising number of sloganed singlets; Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill shows impressive strength and elegance, seductively stripteasing on the corde lisse; Thomas Worrell’s cerceau routine is utterly mesmerising, his final spin a complete mind-boggle.

Although her participation in the dance routines seems a bit half-hearted, the show’s compère, Fez Fa’anana, is at her glittery, eyelash-fluttering best when she interacts with the audience, warmth and wit sparkling.

There’s no obvious coherent theme: the Close Encounters spacey stuff is referred to in a couple of routines involving astronauts and space pods, but there’s also a mad scientist, some complaining about lack of arts funding, a crazy clown-bunny and, even more bizarrely, some club-juggling cavemen.

The show’s surreal elements are, however, the humour highlights: Dale Woodbridge-Brown is hilarious as the crazy bunny harassed by ringing clocks, and his wacky dancing to ’90s club classic “Ride on Time” had the audience in stitches. Harry Clayton-Wright in a nightie doing horror-film poses was also very funny (if completely random), and crackpot as it is to feature a Rubik’s cube in a cabaret act, Louis Biggs somehow managed to make it sexy.

If you’re up for a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, the Briefs band have it in spades. What’s lacking in spit and polish (and some routines are polished to the super-shiny max) is more than made up for in loveable, cheeky-chappy charm.

Close Encounters is showing at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent until Sunday. See more Adelaide Cabaret Festival reviews and previews here.

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