Frisky & Mannish’s School of Pop is a lesson in popular-music and its artists, particularly classics over the past 30 years. Not only a dissection and study of the music itself, where we learn about the presence of horror themes or literary merit of these songs, but also filled with public service lessons, such as Children: Just Say No (“I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”)
This show is hilarious in terms of musical arrangements and reinterpretations, impersonations, and in how close to home the school assembly format hits: anyone who has had to sit through untalented visitors to the school trying to “connect” with the students by expressing themselves through songs will be shuddering with the thought of having to sit through that ever again.
Fortunately, Felicity Fitz-Frisky (Laura Corcoran) and Hansel Amadeus Mannish (Matthew Jones) are very talented and very clever. Both sing (and occasionally dance) their way through a variety of musical styles and characters, with Frisky taking lead vocals and Mannish on the keyboard. Corcoran has a wonderful voice when she allows it to show, and when it is not showing, it is because she is presenting one of her brilliant imitations, such as Lilly Allen’s interpretation of a Noel Coward song. Lest anyone think this is a one-sided affair, though, Mannish also gets in on the act, as with Noel Coward’s interpretation of a Lilly Allen song.
Some jokes did take too much set up time for very little payoff – in particular, it seemed excessive to go to the effort of pulling out audience members just for a small joke of pop-stars under the Sorting Hat being assigned into their Spice Girl house. However, overall the show was a sparkling expose on the shear ridiculousness of some characters and compositions of popular music.
Particular highlights included Lady Gaga on Dancing with the Stars, and showing the effects of marijuana on female songwriters aged between 20 and 35 in the 80s and 90s: “Like… dude. What if GOD… was one of US?!” “You mean, just a stranger on a bus?! Just a slob, like one of US?” Kids: Don’t do drugs.
At least a somewhat working knowledge of popular culture is needed to appreciate this show. It doesn’t need to be deep: if I wasn’t informed I was being taught about the Pussycat Dolls’ appreciation of British Seaside Humour, I would have never picked that what I was listening to was not, in fact, an old British comedy song, but Pussycat Doll’s lyrics. Perhaps that adds to the experience all the more!
Class is dismissed with a mash-up (one of many), including audience participation on So Long, Farewell (Adelaide “shat on Melbourne”, Frisky announced), and our teachers telling us we may need a refresher over the remaining Adelaide shows, and our friends definitely need their lessons. And Frisky and Mannish are your must-have popular music lesson of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival; even if their side-splitting analogies mean you will never listen to the radio in quite the same way again.
2010 Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Frisky & Mannish’s School Of Pop
Venue: Banquet Room
Dates/Times: 23 - 26 June @ 8.15 pm