10
Feb
15

Barbara and Barry’s Sweet, Sour & Saucy

 

Barbara and Barry’s Sweet, Sour & Saucy

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre Performance Space

February 5 – 7 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

SweetSourandSaucyPromo2.jpg

 

Barbara & Barry are experts on love. They host their own radio show from home, offering listeners some very interesting relationship advice. Sweet, Sour & Saucy is a nostalgic night of unique comedy, solid musicianship and terrific, intimate storytelling. I feel like we’re in Barbara & Barry’s living room, sharing a “randy shandy” and resisting tossing keys into a bowl (because that would be highly inappropriate, wouldn’t it?!)

 

It’s a kitsch, cute show, largely due to a retro box set designed by Josh Master of the Designiverse McIntosh, and vintage costumes by Rowenna Mistress of Wardrobe Western. The characters are very nice, and just quietly, a little bit naughty, continuously pushing the envelope with their fake phone calls and improvised letters from “listeners” who struggle in love.

 

SWEET,+SOUR+AND+SAUCY

 

How did I miss seeing these guys at Woodford? They must have been a hit in The Parlour, the same sexy venue to host The Escapists and a bevy of burlesque beauties. It’s a show that can go anywhere, and be enjoyed by anyone.

 

I’ll admit, I wondered at the end of Act 1 what their caper might be. After all, they’d said thank you and goodnight! What would come after Interval? An entirely different show, that’s what! The Live Love Show, which brought the pair out front to a grand piano to sing a few more songs and share a few more letters, this time, apparently, legit letters, which had been penned before the show by audience members.

 

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This act was so different from the first, that I wondered if it would not be more sensible to keep them separate. This would make a slightly shorter, sharper, neater show without an interval and earn this talented duo a return season to appeal equally to new and returning audiences. If you’ve never seen Melissa Western perform, keep an eye out for the next opportunity; Western is to cabaret what Pippy Longstocking is to childhood liturature. A delight to see and hear, she’s actually amazing, with a jukebox voice enabling multiple musical styles and the ability to keep the beat with a washboard, tap shoes and kitchen spoons. Joined by real life husband, the equally impressive Tnee Dyer, these two bring to Brisbane a rare sort of genuine joy simply by being completely natural with one another, and with us, despite being completely OTT at the same time!

 

After the show I completed a mini iPad arTour survey, requiring me to rate the show overall. I had a moment of panic, I’ll admit, because you know I don’t do numbers or stars. I was asked to consider elements of the production, including “community engagement”, and I wonder how effective this feedback is, in terms of influencing decisions during the artists’ next free-flowing creative session (or next forced funding application submission session). I’d love to see this sort of immediate response recorded by other companies, perhaps in addition to the gloss and fuss of some of the vox pop productions we see on social media. (See below).

 

One of the highlights of Sweet, Sour & Saucy, despite the segment’s overlong duration, was the re-commitment ceremony afforded a couple in the audience – John and Chris – married 43 years. Barbara played the Celebrant (Barry played the piano), and for the occasion Barbara donned a swirling mass of feathery, sequinned, beaded bright green, the only possible explanation being that the finale was John Paul Young’s Love Is In the Air, made even more famous of course in Strictly Ballroom. The audience participation involved bubble blowing, confetti throwing and a random tango demonstration from a keen couple in the audience. Fun! There was actual tangible love and joy in the air, y’all!

 

Barbara and Barry effortlessly facilitated some of the most enjoyable moments the Judy has seen in a long time and I hope we see them “on air” again soon! In fact, we demand it! Bring back Barbara and Barry!

 

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