FRINGE WORLD: A comedic thesis in pop dialectics covering the great pairings from Brandy and Monica to Freddie Mercury and What’s-her-face Operabitch.
You would hope for a bit of ‘Frisky’ as part of the Pearl Spiegeltent’s Fringe World season in Perth, sitting under the Belgian mirror tent’s chandelier on a hot summer’s night with masses of other bodies. People chat, wait expectantly and cool off with a cider. The audience, as one person I spoke with commented, was a lot more diverse and older than they expected, but that such an audience has flocked to something new and different is a positive sign, and you can only hope that Perth audiences continue to do so.
We are awaiting the middle, one hour course of the Spiegeltent’s Fringe World program, a performance by UK artists Frisky & Mannish, who, it turns out, are an incredibly polished musical comedy/cabaret duo who worked their first Perth season jokes seamlessly into their comedy patter.
Formed in 2008, Frisky & Mannish are writer/performers Laura Corcoran and Matthew Jones, currently touring Australia with their second show, following on from their critically acclaimed School of Pop, whch they brought to Australia last year.
The main idea underpinning the musical mash-up ‘lesson’ the pair present concerns the attraction of opposites and collision theory. Overall it comes across as a little under-done. I would be keen to see the show later in its season, where the duo’s marvellous mimicry and stunning vocal pyrotechnics – particularly Laura Corcoran with her multiple octave range – may be further embedded in the writing, which tonight doesn’t quite reach the peaks that the rest of their performance attains.
That said there were certainly some ceiling-hitting notes: their unique pairings of opposites included Florence Welch and Peter Andre, which was startlingly original and complex and earned well deserved laughter, both for the excellent portrayal of Florence, and the impression of her pop songs performed as covers when channelled through Peter Andre.
Corcoran & Jones not only parody pop music, as exemplified in one line about “any shit pop song imprinted in your brain till you die”. They also parody interactive learning sessions, with the audience as their students.
As a framework, it certainly gets the audience engaged, and touches on subjects such as self-narcissistic obsession, but as a concept it was never quite fully developed enough throughout the evening to really hit home.
Thanks to the pair’s awesome talent for mimicry, instant recognition of songs and performers – ranging from Lily Allen, Lil’ Kim, and George Michael to Noel Coward (one of the incredible standout moments by Matthew Jones) – made the audience laugh long and hard. The duo’s amazing acting work, with super-expressive faces, also elicited a lot of gasping laughs.
The College Years provides a compact hour of laughter and awe at Frisky & Mannish’s portrayal of the richness of singing styles, as well as references to English literature, history, and academia, but don’t expect to read too much into their pop cultural lecturing.
Fringe World presents Frisky & Mannish: The College Years
February 9 – 16
What the Other Critics Said
Chortle UK (2010 Edinburgh Fringe): "Frisky and Mannish’s show is, again, the most fun you can have on the Fringe without chemicals – and I daresay it’s even better with them… "