Bold, feisty and glamorous! With sold-out performances at London’s West End, Close Encounters is a risqué, high-calibre cabaret that is now taking also the Melbourne audience by storm. Male burlesque meets circus elements in a glam and festive show by Brief’s Factory that is rich and raunchy, witty and entertaining, electrifying and engaging and that has already wowed audiences at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (2017), in Auckland, Sydney and Edinburgh. From Europe to Oceania, here comes a performance like no other and a must-see!

Referring to themselves as “Manufacturers and distributors of evocative, irreverent, political punk performance”, the feisty and flamboyant 6 plus-member Australian cabaret group Briefs, part of the collective Brief’s Factory, dazzled on the opening night of Close Encounters. The show commences with the performers showing an acute awareness of recent socio-political happenings (the Christchurch terror attack still casting its long shadow) and although their matter-of-fact conclusion is that humanity has “lost confidence in our leaders” the audience is reassured that “the human race does survive”.

A perfect blend of drag show, burlesque cabaret, strip tease, comedy and performance art, Close Encounters takes us on a journey into a future free of violence; a space where we “celebrate rather than sabotage one another”, one where love rules. Dressed in striking outfits and costumes - or none at all - the performers deliver a message of tolerance in a show like no other.

Structured along different episodes; each featuring a unique, mind-blowing act and theme, Close Encounters is an encounter of a different kind. The futuristic leader of the mothership a naturally statuesque and stunningly eloquent drag queen with island roots and towering above the rest of the crew also thanks to heels almost impossible to wear by “natural" women, entertains us throughout with witty remarks and reflections that have the audience wrapped and hanging on to each word. Briefs combines the perfect leader with the perfect crew delivering a perfect repertoire.

In the show, a number of gorgeously sexy men seductively peel off elegant clothing one item at a time, liberating themselves effortlessly only to reveal taut bodies where defined muscles play through their every move. Anatomically perfect, they still prove that sexiness and sensuality are best achieved through a good and healthy sense of humour.

One of the most unpretentiously entertaining characters wears rabbit ears and a striped outfit and has as his faithful companion a ticking alarm clock – possibly symbolising time ticking away but also our own ability to momentarily stop time and live for the moment. Acrobats, athletes, smooth bodies in motion, a superbly witty and eloquent main host delivering statements that resemble poetry in motion.. We are all invited to witness this fluid display, all “ladies, gentlemen” and “genders unforeseen” ̶ and it is utterly refreshing!

All this against the physical backdrop of a perfectly arranged stage. Sophisticated lighting changes in psychedelic colours in line with varied topics and themes, the rather minimalistic stage design is compensated by extravagant outfits, and the use of sound and voices is top notch. Close Encounters is a thriller turned comedy turned elegant drag show that verges on the raunchy but is brainier than that. Sensuality and oozing sexiness take over and leaves us yearning for more.

Brief’s Close Encounters is mind-blowing, provocative and cerebral all at once. This irrepressibly optimistic group enthusiastically shows us the way to a more perfect future.

Rating: 5/5


Dates: 20 - 24 March, 2019

Location: The Arts Centre (100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004)

Times: Wed - Fri: 8pm, Weekends: Times vary (check website)

Cost: $42 - $59