Sweet, Sour and Saucy

Australians Tnee Dyer and Melissa Western deliver a set list of classic jazz and blues with light-hearted, occasionally risqué between-song banter. Structuring the show around a 1950’s radio programme, characters Barry (Dyer) and Barbara (Western) alternate between sweet and saucy songs and doling out agony aunt-style advice as pretend listeners call or write in with their problems. This premise actually works very well as Dyer seamlessly shifts from piano stool with Western joining him centre-stage, usually to chastise his often sexist advice. This structure enables the duo to showcase their wonderful rapport – it is perhaps no surprise to discover after the show that they are married in real-life – and superb comic timing. It also paves the way for introducing the following songs, so that the whole show hangs together perfectly. The theme – accepting your partner’s foibles and keeping a sense of humour – reveals itself gradually, culminating in a sweet and not at all sickly peck on the lips at the end.

It’s a pleasure to see a show which has been put together with such care and consideration.

But what of the songs? Dyer tinkles the ivories on a grand piano and croons beautifully with a voice reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright, while Western is a force of nature as the feisty singer. Her voice has a warmth, strength, and richness to it which complements Dyer’s reedier tones. She is also the consummate entertainer. This afternoon we see her play the kazoo trombone on ‘Loving Spree’, tambourine on ‘I’m A Woman’, washboard on ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, change her shoes quickly for some nifty tap dancing mid-set, play mandolin on ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business’ and best of all, the spoons on ‘Kiss of Fire’ – wonderfully mimicking the sound of tango dancing feet, in reference to Phyllis’s letter about having the hots for her dance instructor.

I saw Western and Dyer perform at their second show of this Fringe – I can only predict that they will become ever more confident and assured as the days go by. It’s a pleasure to see a show which has been put together with such care and consideration. The duo is accustomed to performing as part of a seven-piece band - the fact they have managed to create such a big, captivating sound all on their own is remarkable. The crowd is very appreciative, perhaps thankful to have witnessed a warm, loving, witty, and supremely talented married couple make an afternoon at work look like play.

Reviews by Ella Moran-Jones

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Performances

The Blurb

One grand piano. Two glorious voices. Classic jazz and blues. This dynamic duo recreate the chemistry of great duets just like Ella and Louis. Quality music, hysterical tangents, intimate atmosphere. ‘Absolutely brilliant’ * **** (ThreeWeeks). www.melissawestern.com

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