Performance review: Briefs – Dirty Laundry, Sydney Mardi Gras

A Mardi Gras headline act, this queer acrobatic troupe returns for more mischief.

If you’re looking for some ‘FAAABULOUS’ entertainment, head on over to the Spiegeltent in Sydney’s Moore Park for Briefs – Dirty Laundry, one of the headline acts for this year’s Mardi Gras. Billed as a ‘Circus Drag Burlesque’ the show certainly lives up to the company’s risqué reputation, featuring lots of flesh along with some spectacular acrobatics and uniquely Australian humour.

Anyone who has seen the Brisbane-based Briefs company before will be familiar with their sexy, flirtatious and athletic style, this time exploring and laundering all those dirty little secrets we keep close to our hearts. 

It is a wonderfully queer celebration in the best of ways. Gender fluid, inclusive and funny. And the highlights are many and varied. The utter mischief on display is superb and the athleticism of the circus acts is astounding. Dylan Rodriguez as Serenity puts on a stylishly energetic aerial act and Rowan Thomas teases us with a sensual and exciting turn on his large ring. But it is Thomas Worrell arching and soaring and spinning impossibly in the air that takes the breath away most often. 

Theres some great dance moves from Brett Rosengreen and some delicious humour – particularly from the outrageously wigged Mark Winmill, Dale Woodbridge-Brown and Luke Hubbard’s alter ego “Nastia”. Fez Faanana’s “Shivannah” is a warm and engaging hostess, strutting around in gorgeous outfits and, like many of the company, dancing convincingly in impossibly high heels. 

Now, this show has been touring around for a couple of years, and so it is slightly disappointing to see that it lacks the kind of tight, slick timing one might expect from a show that has been performed as frequently as this. 

The evening, while still very enjoyable, is uneven in its structure. The first act is stronger than the second and, overall, it feels as if it has been padded to include an interval. The Briefs company still presents as a somewhat naïve experimental fringe company and perhaps that has been its strength in the past. But it’s clear there is further scope to explore.

With the immense talent obvious in the company and the wonderful individual successes of each performance vignette, it may be time to enlist some directorial help to structure and tighten up the theatrical experience, if they are to continue growing and capitalising on the wonderful potential that is clearly obvious on the stage. And finally get some of those elusive grants! 

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For this is a group of amazing and beautiful people – brimming with showmanship, attitude and physical skill. The future is bright if they continue to polish up the technical presentation details. Nevertheless, this is a fun, raw and exciting night out for Mardi Gras and there’s plenty to enjoy. The Spiegeltent is a wonderful experience and perfect for this show. Make it a definite booking on your Sydney celebration calendar. 

Briefs – Dirty Laundry
Briefs Factory

The Spiegeltent
Cast: Fez Faanana/Shivannah, Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill, Thomas Worrell, Luke Hubbard/Nastia, Dylan Rodriguez/Serenity, Brett Rosengreen, Rowan Thomas, Dale Woodbridge-Brown 

Tickets: from $65

Briefs will be performed until 15 March as part of Sydney Mardi Gras.

Dennis Clements is a NIDA Acting graduate and has a BA focused on Literature, Theatre and Journalism. He won the Theatre prize in his graduation year from Curtin University in WA. He has extensive leading role performance credits in both professional and community based companies, and has directed numerous productions for Bankstown Theatre Company and Ashfield Musical society. He is a registered Marriage Celebrant if you want to get hitched, and has also reviewed for Australian Stage online theatre magazine for several years.