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Briefs: Close Encounters (Sydney Festival)

11 January 2018 | 10:56 am | Sam Baran

"A self-described 'boylesque' extravaganza, featuring a troupe of bearded beauties."

Briefs: Close Encounters is a self-described 'boylesque' extravaganza, featuring a troupe of bearded beauties twirling, strutting, dancing and prancing their way across the stage. Armed with unconventional moves and a wardrobe of truly fabulous outfits, their energetic routines are set to bone-shaking bass and 'ship's captain' Fez Fa'anana's drag-queen diva calls of, "Don't touch me!" While it's all set loosely to a B-movie sci-fi vibe, this otherworldly theme's much more of a guideline than a rule for the flavourful acts on offer.

To cut to the chase: if you like muscled, semi-naked men, cavorting and showing off their considerable dance and circus craft, you will love Briefs. In addition to its healthy complement of buff bods, there's also mega-watt comedy and charisma in equal measure, but where this show falls short is in its lack of focus. The different acts do a good job of showcasing the individual skills, but as a cohesive production, Briefs feels adrift in a larger narrative. Fez Fa'anana's sporadic solo parts are entertaining but somewhat confusing, and acts of extreme beauty - such as a mostly-naked man twisting and contorting gracefully in a spinning airborne cage while Fa'anana struts beneath in masquerade - are bookended by some not always successful comedy.

Still, there's a lot to adore about Briefs. The second half ends in a spectacular finale that just keeps building up and building up, with well-choreographed displays in improbable costumes, to a gloriously glittery climax. The show is full of tongue-waggling, crotch-jerking fun - it's just a shame that the close encounters couldn't have been that little bit closer.

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Sydney Festival presents Briefs: Close Encounters, at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Meriton Festival Village.