The Swindonian at the Edinburgh Fringe – Flo and Joan: The Kindness of Stranglers

The Swindonian at the Edinburgh Fringe – Flo and Joan: The Kindness of Stranglers

Flo and Joan are a pair of British piano/percussion musical comedians, recently returned from a residency out in Canada.  Although, strictly speaking, they aren’t called Flo and Joan.  The act is, but they are actually sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey.  The Flo and Joan that they, and the act, take their names from are the pairs’ grandmothers.  “Flo” is in reality Nicola – the shorter, bespectacled and sterner member of the duo.  “Joan” is (by process of elimination) Rosie – taller, blonder and kookier.  “Joan” likes sausages so much she has a song about them.  “Flo” has a song about pushing “Joan” down the stairs (but only should she be required to in the interest of assisted suicide).  On stage they sing songs on a variety of topics and bicker.

In a review I read before I saw the show the reviewer compared them to the popular 1950’s musical double act Flanders and Swann.  It is unfortunate, and an outrage in many ways, that some other (probably inferior) reviewer beat me to it as it’s virtually the perfect comparison and I can’t really proceed with this review without pinching it.

I’d like to, but I can’t.

So: In many ways Flo and Joan are a lot like Flanders and Swann.  Both acts boast a variety of songs that revel in gentle satire, lyrical complexity and dancing wordplay.  Although Flanders and Swann were less well-known for their jazz recorder solos.  And Flo hasn’t had polio (as far as I know).

I particularly enjoyed their last song “Little Flo and Little Joan” and deeply sweet finale where both singers offer comfort and advice to their childhood selves.  I enjoyed the barbs and silliness of their earlier songs, but this last number is so sweetly lacking in cynicism that it sweeps the audience on their way at their end with a tear in the eye.

Flo and Joan have had a lot of success out in Canada.  Hopefully they’ll earn some well-deserved success back home.

Flo and Joan will be appearing at Just the Tonic at the Tron, Edinburgh (Venue 51) at 2.20pm until Saturday 26th August.

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