MELT 2018 Review: Get ready for a close encounter of the cabaret kind, with Briefs: Close Encounters (Brisbane Powerhouse until June 2nd)

The Briefs boys are back in Brisbane, returning from a distant glamourous future to spread a message of hope, love, and fabulous good times. Led by their drag queen mistress Shivannah (Fez Fa’anana), the stage is set for a night of stunning aerial acrobatics, powerful lip syncs, and raucous good fun.

This is cabaret at its most exciting, the tricks you’ve probably seen before given new life by this talented and creative team. An excellent soundtrack coupled with fantastic light effects layer themselves over exciting set pieces, framed by fist pumping calls to action from MC Shivannah. Every member of the Briefs: Close Encounters cast gets a chance to shine on this interstellar voyage, with highlights including a striptease meets juggling routine inspired by 1950s sci-fi, a baton twirling rabbit, and a decidedly bizarre dream sequence, involving contemporary dance, a lamp, and a moustachioed lady, set to a Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.

There’s an inherently political side to Briefs: Close Encounters, something that feels deliciously and powerfully underground, even for a show packing out the sizeable Powerhouse theatre. Messages of love, protest, and embracing life to its fullest are beamed out to a receptive and excited audience, while the all male cast play with gender, taking to the stage dressed in drag, and performing sequences that seasoned cabaret goers are more used to seeing women in. Calls of “We protest for those that can’t”, “Silence is guilty,”, “Their time is up,” make it clear that Shivannah and her crew aren’t just here to entertain, but to inform and empower, to help us move towards the glorious glittery future they claim to have come from. After a few wines from the in-theatre bar, your morning after memories of the show might be more of the sexy-men-in-tiny-pants variety, rather than the rise-up-and-fight kind, but it’s a stirring and potent effect nonetheless, and is one that stays true to the underground, rebellious characters of cabaret and drag.

Briefs: Close Encounters is a vibrant and exciting call to enjoy life to the fullest, and to look out for one another. Our future, after all, depends on it. Have you seen the acrobatics before? Probably, but never quite like this.

A sparkling FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Catch Briefs: Close Encounters at the Brisbane Powerhouse, as part of MELT 2018, on selected dates until June 2nd. Tickets and more info here.
Reviewer attended opening night on May 23rd.