Frisky and Mannish: The College Years

I'm a newcomer to the Frisky and Mannish experience – a fresher, as they address me at one point – I came into this show lacking any point of comparison with last year's smash hit School of Pop. While those who saw both seem mostly to have thought this was a less successful follow-up, I came out grinning in blissful ignorance, having had more fun that I would have thought possibly to a lot of music that I don't particularly like.Frisky and Mannish might loosely be called musical impressionists, a duo of highly accomplished singers and comedians who chew up and spit out the classics and the more disposable moments of pop and cheese history from the 70s onwards, rehashing them as short, sharp, note-perfect parodies. Frisky in particular is an incredible singer, possessed of a vocal versatility that allows her to mimic everyone from Lily Allen to Mariah Carey, not as tokenistic pastiche but full-on, powerful, close approximations. Mannish gets less chances to show off his own vocal stylings, but is equally dexterous on the keyboards, and a fine comic actor to boot. The general gist of the show is a mock-up lecture, a set-up for which Frisky's posh, schoolmarmish tones and Mannish's snide one-liners are very well suited, this year based on 'collision theory' and grouped around the idiosyncrasies of the vocal duet. It's hyper-referential and if you don't know your Whigfield from your Field Mice (the Field Mice don't actually feature) then you might be wishing there were footnotes, but generally there's enough lightning charisma and energy to see through the less familiar patches.My highlight was a take on the Ting Tings' 'That's Not My Name' that does for their press cuttings what the rest of their set does for pop music: chews them up and rearranges them into something gloriously new. They're aware of, and play on, their own star personas and also have bags of star potential. I'm not really a fan of most of the music they play on, but I still have some of it stuck in my head today. On one level this is obviously maddening, but on another it deserves congratulation.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Following their packed house, critically acclaimed, smash-hit debut last year, F&M are back with a brand new show. 'Joyous' (Guardian). 'Undisputed hit of the Fringe' ***** (Herald). 'Wildly talented' **** (Independent). 'Pure exhilarating brilliance' *****(Chortle).