Briefs – Close Encounters – Underbelly Festival

Pictures: Roy Tan

Briefs – Close Encounters – continues at the Underbelly Festival,  Southbank, London until 30 September.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

You don’t have to be in Edinburgh this summer to enjoy some of the best Fringe entertainment the theatre world has to offer. Just pop on over to the Southbank for the Underbelly Festival where you will be dazzled by a group of talented men from Down Under who have pitched their spiegeltent in London for the next 12 weeks.

It’s clear upon walking through the doors that the troupe have gathered themselves quite a following with many returning audience members quickly filling out the front row.

Despite desperately trying to hide in the middle of the middle row, it became abundantly clear that every seat was carefully placed to make sure that the audience was as close to the action as possible.

The boys from Oz, lead by Fez Faanana, who wears the most fabulous shoes that I would even struggle to stand up in, have come back from the future – where life is one giant glitter ball – to sweep us away from the everyday stresses of life.

Once the lights dim, the rest of the night is like a wonderful trippy dream. The performers take to the stage for the next hour to wow the audience with an act of incredible dancing, gymnastics, acrobatics, music and striptease.

The show is delightfully camp but the skills displayed by each performer are simply sensational. As if swinging from a hoop or a rope from the ceiling doesn’t look challenging enough, add in a striptease, like ‘Captain Kidd’ Mark Winmill does and you’ve really got yourself a showstopper.

While the acrobatic skills never cease to amaze, it’s actually a more grounded act that particularly stands out.

Dale Woodbridge Brown comes out dressed as a white rabbit with an old-style alarm clock. The rabbit showmanship is spot-on as he turns to the audience beside him and just says ‘clock’ and somehow everyone starts howling with laughter.

The truly amazing part of his performance is how he manages to turn the alarm clocks on and off without touching them. The skill that goes into that kind of planning is incredible and I’m still not entirely sure how he does it!

The cast of six muscular, insanely talented performers also include Louis Biggs, Harry Clayton-Wright, Thomas Gundry Greenfield and Thomas Worrell, who all get their equal share of stage time to amaze the audience with their talents.

There’s a tradition of holding a raffle during the show with a very saucy prize for the lucky winner. On this occasion a gentleman meekly raised his hand but seemed quite at ease on stage while enjoying his winnings.

With the theme of time travel, Faanana insists that the future is much better and brighter than the present. With that, he goes on to open up the show to all audience members, and takes the time to welcome all genders to the show, which is positively received by the audience.

It’s a high-energy, fun, sexy show that will most certainly leave you uplifted.

Tal Fox

Tickets for Briefs are available HERE.


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