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.