BRIEFS – Dirty Laundry

AAR-The-Cast-of-Briefs-photo-by-Naomi-ReedBrisbane based acrobatic troupe Briefs has been touring its unique combination of burlesque circus to spiegeltent and theatres around Australia and Internationally for more than a decade. During that time it has forged a reputation not only for the quality of its artists but also for the excellence of its presentation skills.

Certainly Briefs – Dirty Laundry delivers the goods with a cast of ripped, accomplished athletes who dazzle with inventive striptease, startling gymnastics and astounding theatre acts, like Thomas Worrell who amazed with his world-class aerial hoop act, Mark Winmill with his fiery hoola hoop, and Louis Biggs expertly juggling balls while revealing a great deal more of himself than is considered polite.

However it is Brief’s hard-won reputation for presentational excellence that disappointed on the opening night of its much-anticipated Canberra season. The title, Dirty Laundry, may have seemed intriguing for burlesque show, but it also tied the show to a concept which proved a problem because much of the show did not support the premise.

As well, the sparse laundromat setting, which remained on stage throughout the show, detracted; being at odds with the subversive glamour for which Briefs productions are so admired.

The setting did work well for the cleverly choreographed and performed opening number, and another in which a performer emerged from a washing  machine wearing only soapsuds and enveloped in bubbles; but the clever routine performed with large white ostrich feather fans suffered in this setting as did several other excellent acts which had nothing to do with laundromats.

As the show progressed the laundromat concept simply got lost amid careless stage management and extended rambling monologues from the host, Fez Faanana, much of which felt like padding which slowed the show down and robbed it of its expected polish.

It was hard to escape the feeling that to accommodate the sale of merchandise, what had originally been a tight one-hour show, had now been extended by an interval from which it never recovered. None of which seemed to worry many in the audience, who were in the mood to party.

However, it seemed a pity that this troupe of clever, talented performers, having worked so hard to establish its enviable reputation for excellence was prepared to put that reputation at risk with such a slap-dash performance.

BRIEFS – Dirty Laundry
Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Wednesday 10 May 2023
Season: 10 – 13 May 2023

Image: The Cast of Briefs – photo by Naomi Reed

Review: Bill Stephens OAM