Flo and Joan: Now Playing

Flo and Joan at the 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival photo by Claudio RaschellaThere’s an amount of familiarity in the 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival program. Some of this is due to established acts, such as UK musical-comedy sisters Flo and Joan. Fans can expect their “Australian Premiere” of Now Playing to include some of their “greatest hits”.

MICF audiences first experienced Flo (dainty, on keys) and Joan (taller, percussion) in 2019’s memorable Alive on Stage. When COVID was less prominent in 2022, the pair toured the highly amusing Sweet Release. Now Playing has borrowed quite a number of songs and tales from previous outings.

Devotees will find that, from quite early on, they will have a good idea of where the show is going. This means fewer of the satisfying surprises we’ve come to expect from a Flo and Joan offering.

With that awkwardness out of the way, happily, just like their earlier shows, there’s never a dull moment here. You do need to pay attention though. The duo blast through a number of brisk songs with sharp lyrics, which sometimes gave us an unconventional slant on issues.

Getting big laughs from, say, a song on women walking by themselves at night shows the pair’s talent in blending humorous insights with a serious topic. However, Flo and Joan are just as capable with outright silliness, no matter the tempo. Songs ranged from an account of a messy night out on the tiles, to a take on English folk music.

Just when you think you’ve got a hold of some kooky formula, the duo have a change-up or a call-back, or show off another impressive facet of their musicianship.

This is a “Cabaret” show, and between songs we do get some revelations on the sisters’ relationships, or the unglamourous side of touring. Self-deprecation comes very easily to these sisters, for much comedic benefit.

This thread builds over the course of the show, leading to a finale that packs a sneaky emotional punch. It seems that Flo and Joan can play us as skillfully as they do their instruments.

Flo and Joan are Now Playing for a few more nights at Adelaide Cabaret Festival. From the regularity of laughs in the Space Theatre, fans old and new were solidly entertained.

Flo and Joan: Now Playing
Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Performance: Wednesday 12 June 2024 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 15 June 2024
Information and Bookings: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au

Image: Flo and Joan at the 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival – photo by Claudio Raschella

Review: Jason Whyte