Frisky and Mannish – Extra Curricular Activities [FringeTIX]
Frisky and Mannish @ The Garden of Unearthly Delights – The Deluxe
10:00pm, Fri 15 Feb 2013
So – I’m waiting pretty near the front of the queue outside The Deluxe. Most of the people in front look older than me; most behind look younger. But they all had one thing in common: none of them knew quite why they were there.
Maybe, like me, they’d caught wind of the cult of personality that seems to surround Frisky and Mannish; I’d certainly first heard of them when they were talked up as part of a Cabaret Festival many years ago. But I had no real idea what they were actually going to be like; and whilst that’s pretty lazy these days (what with YouTube et al), sometimes it’s good to go into things fresh.
But first, the queue: I notice a woman strolling the length of the line with a handful of F&M flyers; I acquired one from her, and as she handed it over she looked at me carefully: “I remember you from last year,” she said.
“Probably,” I responded, “I’m around a lot.”
“That’s right… aren’t you media?” It felt like more of a prod than a question.
“Well… I blog,” I offered.
“Oh, okay,” she said. “Enjoy the show.”
Something about that little exchange gnawed at me; when she walked by again, I asked for a little chat.
“So – you’re producing this show?” I guessed correctly. “Why would being media make a difference?”
“It’s a preview night,” she replied, “We don’t want reviewers in on previews. They’ve just come in from Perth, and they’re just getting used to the stage, so they’ll be a bit rusty. Don’t want reviewers seeing that. Enjoy the show.”
As she walked away again, I felt almost marginalised – I know what the numbers on this blog are, and I know that nearly all the people who read these memories are artists vanity-Googling themselves, but to be so summarily dismissed as “irrelevant media” by a show’s producer still stung a little. And that’s what was going through my mind as I entered The Deluxe and took a “safe” seat in a booth.
Frisky and Mannish rush the stage in a flurry of colour and exaggerated movements; their appearance and mannerisms are as cartoonish as you may expect from their gaudy flyers. The show is a mish-mash of pop-music references, referencing everyone from Kate Bush through the Bee Gees and up to Gotye. It’s all quite cleverly written – funny and pointed, whilst still providing a measure of respect to the topic.
But you can only realise just how cleverly it is written if you recognise the source material – and, for someone (like me) who is only really well grounded in pop of the 80s, J-, and K- varieties, I could only pick up maybe half the references. But whilst I wouldn’t be able to pick out a Rihanna song, I appreciated the Bee Gees demo version; I have no idea who Lana Del Rey is, but F&M’s rapid-fire discussion about how she met her mentor is still a chortle-worthy affair.
There were some odd non sequiturs thrown into the mix – a piercing alarm going off resulting in moments of comical panic, and a curious audience interaction segment to close the show with a conga line. And let it never be said that Frisky and Mannish don’t deliver onstage – Frisky’s voice is fantastic and covers a massive range, with her exuberant physical flourishes maintaining a manic sense of activity, and Mannish provides a perfect comic foil from behind the keyboards. But, unfortunately, this evening they were providing a pop masterclass to an audience that didn’t really know a whole lot about the expanse of pop music… and that resulted in a rather flat, though politely appreciative, room.