Briefs: Close Encounters
Underbelly Festival, South Bank, London
Billed as Boylesque, Briefs, an Australian dance troupe directed and led by the fiercely non-binary Fez Faanana, have landed their glittery starship-a go-go on London’s South Bank, ostensibly to offer the hope of a future where narrow definitions of what’s possible are jettisoned in favour of the fabulous, the frivoulous and the frankly fantastic.
Combining daring aeriel ballet, (executed to perfection by Thomas Worrell), modern dance and political performance art with such high-camp that the sparkly Spiegeltent in which it takes place becomes the mothership, Close Encounters is equal parts Vegas and Monty Python’s Existential Flying Circus, with added va-va-voom.
A loose narrative interweaves a series of increasingly bizzare tableaux that includes a mad-scientist (Louis Briggs) expertly juggling with balls and a Rubic’s cub, baton-twirling, acrobatics, fan dancing in 6” heels, and a breathtaking pas-de-deux danced to Kate Bush’s Running Up that Hill. Just try to hold your sides in long enough to appreciate the strength and power of the truly virtuosic dance on display. If you doubt the dexterity involved I suggest you try to perform a striptease while spinning at the end of a rope suspended several metres above the ground. Hats off to Mark ‘Captain Kidd’ Winmill for making it look easy, and to the entire production for circumventing accusations of male objectification by putting on a display that thrills all the senses rather than merely titillates.
If it’s not enough to sit back and gawp in wonderment at the fact that a human being can spin at so many RPM, then buy a raffle ticket from the bucket handed around – and you might just win a ‘close encounter’ of your own.
Okay, so Briefs may not be everyone’s cup of tea- although the surprisingly mixed audience lapped up every second of it – but if you’ve an old axel grinder in the garage you may want to get it out and put it to good use after seeing these beautifully bonkers boys strut their stuff.
Briefs is on until 30 September.