Flo & Joan, real life sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, present a fresh funny hour of witty ditties at The Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Opening number ‘Welcome’ is for all like-minded liberals to embrace and the smug-o-meter in the room rises with every line as we nod along to the ladies’ take on the wrongs they perceive in the world, yes, including the inevitable word Brexit.
Their welcome emphasises that we’re in the talented company of two liberal twenty-somethings. With punchy political jibes towards the 52%, it’s a ballsy opener and sets the tone for an hour that succinctly tackles feminism and toxic masculinity with no bullshit. They are celebrating female identities, mocking archaic perceptions of female behaviour that have lead to ‘lady crisps’ (i.e. crisps made smaller, with less crunch and powder flavouring to spare our female blushes). Lady crisps is a snappy number attacking other companies for making pink stationery designed for women, all in a thinly disguised ploy to charge more for the same product. Weddings (and divorces), sex robots and binge drinking all get the Flo & Joan treatment to much applause and admiration from this packed out venue. No mean feat at 4pm on a summer’s afternoon in Edinburgh.
Nicola and Rosie have adopted the stage names ‘Flo and Joan’ after their grandmothers. You may recognise their faces from the Nationwide adverts. Subsequently, disgustingly, they’ve dealt with social media trolls, including death threats. Cleverly, rather than allow the trolls the final word, they address the various messages they’ve received with a dignified, inspiring and, above all, extremely amusing and heartfelt response.
Both ladies become visibly more relaxed on stage as the show and audience warmth develops. In tune with each other in more ways than one, they pick up on cues and spontaneous remarks without missing a beat. Impressively tight, complex word play throughout but a particular highlight was ‘Cracker Packer Carol’ providing an audience tongue twister to give you a glimpse into just how tricky their job is.
Catchy melodies, although very occasionally off key or sung sharp, are delivered with perfect diction combined with impressive piano, recorder, castanets and egg shaker skills. The ladies acknowledge that it isn’t ‘cool’ to do their act. It isn’t easy, either. Some polishing on audience banter between the songs would be a boost. With confidence improved, they’ve the talent and potential to become respected household names (and not just because they’ve been on an advert).
Title: Flo & Joan – Alive On Stage Cast: Nicola and Rosie Dempsey Venue: Pleasance Courtyard, Cabaret Bar Dates: 1st – 10th and 12th – 26th August, Time: 4:00pm Duration: 1 hour Tickets and UK tour info: www.edfringe.com / www.floandjoan.com