Theatre review: Briefs – Close Encounters at Christmas in Leicester Square

Have you heard of ‘boylesque’? A drag-queen-tastic twist on burlesque, cabaret, dance, acrobatics and performance art, it’s a genre that the all-male Australian troupe Briefs has made its own. The boys are in London for Christmas with their Close Encounters show – we sent Neil Simpson to check it out. 

Leicester Square can be an overwhelming place most of the time, but at Christmas, this tourist-heavy spot packs in even more lights, noise and party people when its festive market arrives. This includes a temporary spiegeltent (a large, circus-style circular tent) where the show Briefs: Close Encounters is currently firing joyful, exhilarating blasts of thoughtful fun into the West End night.
Christmas in Leicester Square london Speigeltent xmas market
Briefs is led by Fez Faanana, a charismatic drag queen from Samoa who snarls, flicks and winks his way round the stage. Fez’s costumes are breathtaking and ridiculous but there’s more to him than looks and moves, because he’s got one eye on current affairs. As Fez conducts his talented troupe through multiple spectacles, he gives Close Encounters a heart by repeatedly reminding us that, no matter how terrible the news headlines are, humans will triumph if we work together. 

Would you rather watch a London panto? Read about four of London’s 2018 pantomimes here
briefs encounters leicester square christmas speigeltent trapeze london
That might sound dull, but thanks to the energy and joy of these men it feels euphoric and hopeful. From a skinny man in a discarded granny dress flapping his arms to Kate Bush songs, to the talented aerialist who swings through the air in nothing but his pants, there’s so much to look at – it’s the theatre equivalent of a box of chocolates. Expect comedy, modern dance and stripping, with a tremendous finale fuelled by ‘90s party classic Ride on Time

Briefs: Close Encounters isn’t ideal for the whole family ­(it’s not recommended for under-16s), but if you believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate each other and have fabulous amounts of fun, then don’t leave London without seeing this show. 

Briefs: Close Encounters runs until 3 Jan 2019
7.30pm (no show 24, 25 & 31 Dec or 1 Jan), tickets from £28.50
Christmas in Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA 

Read our review of new West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

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