Oh my God, they’re back again. Eleven years since they debuted with School of Pop and a good while since they last performed at the fringe, Frisky and Mannish (aka Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones) are back with a show that’s a reminder of just how much fun this pair can be at their best.
The schtick remains unchanged. Pop songs from different genres get mashed up, their lyrics unpicked. Frisky, sporting a vivid carmine wig and rocking a silver, glam rock, Joan-from-Mad-Men outfit, is the officious school mistress, Mannish her acid back-up.
The new show’s (very loose) concept casts them as PhDs of pop conducting experiments and creating new hybrids. This is essentially an excuse to perform a pop-inspired twist on Tom Lehrer’s periodic table song ¬– with elements including Selenium Gomez – and take lots of justifiable swipes at Ed Sheeran.
While a lot of the laughter boils down to recognition, and one extended joke about an infectious strain of “tropical house” relies on remembering 1990s Cuban novelty singer, Margarita Pracatan, the improv sequence in which Frisky sings Rick Astley songs in different genres – “heavy metal,” one impish Scottish lady unexpectedly suggests – is a hoot. It’s parlour game stuff but it works because they’re both versatile performers.
While it’s always a pleasure to hear their riff on the sinister, stalker-ish nature of love song lyrics, it would have been nice to have some more new material. But while in some of their later shows it felt a bit like they were going through the motions, here they look like they’re having fun, and as a result so do we.