Review by Jerome Studdy
“. . . and before you know it, one of the performers has his balls out, and gosh, he can juggle, and then, well, the audience get a peek of some . . . other juggling balls”
Briefs - Dirty Laundry is an absolute masterstroke of tongue in cheek titillation, physical performance, and boy-sterous humour. A show that not only grips the audience, consensually, in fits of laughter and rowdy applause, but a show that is dripping with artistic merit in the way it demonstrates the breadth of storytelling, and the sheer craftsmanship of circus skills, aerials, comedy, and drag.
The cast and crew of Briefs - Dirty Laundry truly know how to curate a show. The audience knew what they were in for, sure, some chaotic drag, some inappropriate humour, nudity, and a whole lot of fun. What was truly a welcome surprise, however, was the way the cast (in particular, the MC work of Fez Faanana) made the show comforting, welcoming, inviting, and somehow eclipsed the often cold space of the York stage at The Seymour Centre. In addition, the commentary across the show was important. Yes, the general pandemic theme may feel a little past its prime, but the way country was acknowledged, the way queerness was acknowledged, the way community was acknowledged, and the way the struggles faced by artists in our current climate were acknowledged stuck out as some of the most important features of the show.
Onto the performances themselves. The audience were treated to a suave and sexy juggling ball strip tease, found themselves unable to look away from balloon and sword swallowing, drunk reckless drag queens showed up to strip and perform fire hula, a floor tumbling child prodigy was pushed to success by a tiger mum, a sudsy daddy appeared from the washing machine, a classic feather fan burlesque number, and aerial routines on straps and lyra. A moment of recognition for the aerialists, Enter Serenity and Thomas Worrell. These two artists demonstrated the remarkable capacities of the human body in their routines. Worrell in particular was an immeasurable display of physicality with strength perfectly balanced against flexibility - and talk about a spin-cycle!
One point of improvement would be an increased dedication to the laundry thematic material. It’s fun, it’s sudsy, and the routines that committed to that material felt more at home in the space.
While the show had its rough edges and untidy moments, it’s the opinion of this reviewer that this is one of the most quintessential ingredients of a circus or burlesque show, because it gives the performers permission to stumble. Had this show been presented as a high scale production, it’s unlikely that the audience would have forgiven the odd dropped juggling ball or fumbled dance step. But because the show feels close and friendly, the audience revel in these moments, and it provides the performers an invaluable vehicle to demonstrate their professionalism and ability to rise above their missteps. Additionally to this, and what seems to set Briefs Factory apart is their ability to take themselves seriously in just the right measure. Too many shows are crippled by their own egos, but not Briefs, they know exactly how to whip out their egos for an appropriate stroke.
All in all, this was a gaudy, rowdy, and naughty night at the theatre. Briefs Factory demonstrate that sometimes the most important fabric of our artistic society is not clean white stretched canvas in a gallery, but some choice pieces of dirty laundry getting aired in the backyard.