Frisky and Mannish’s Pop Centrelink

Nerida Dickinson

FRINGE WORLD: Engaging, clever, and never entirely predictable, Frisky and Mannish find and share more culture in pop music than ever seen on MTV.
Frisky and Mannish’s Pop Centrelink
Engaging, clever, and never entirely predictable, Frisky and Mannish find and share more culture in pop music than ever seen on MTV.

Frisky is the quintessential supercilious careers counsellor trying to help members of the audience to find their individual niches within the world of pop music. Mannish is along for the perpetually entertaining ride. Together they explore the potential career paths within the field, by genre, by artist and always with lots of laughter.

More coherent than the earnest school career-counselling sessions of my youth, the show began with mass audience involvement in an aptitude test for attributes from “cool hair” to “singing and dancing at the same time”. The five main categories were then illustrated with cleverly depicted motivational case studies, before a scholarly dissection of a career that has spanned most of the categories.

Cover versions of songs were visited, introducing cutting musical trends to Perth and subjecting some recent pop hits to song-writing quality analysis. Some local references slyly snuck in, Triple J’s Hottest 100 winner receiving a quintessentially Australian make over before Frisky and Mannish made a heartfelt appeal, using their celebrity status to make a difference. The show ended with the creation of Perth’s latest boy band – they were HUGE in the Spiegeltent, anyway!

Not wanting to spoil the show, Frisky and Mannish are never afraid of going for the cheese angle, Pop Centrelink referencing luminaries such as the BeeGees, Katy Perry, Olivia Newton-John, Charlotte Church, Britney Spears and far too many boy bands. They tap into a level of pop culture so ubiquitous it’s quite likely that most people will not even know that they are familiar with it.

Frisky and Mannish’s work comes across as the best possible result of an adolescence spent in front of a mirror singing into a hairbrush. In the confined venue of the Spiegeltent their facial expressions (contortions, in Mannish’s case) worked perfectly, as did their rapport and physical comedy. Mannish is a demon on the keyboard, the way the material was prepared is devastatingly clever and the vocal versatility of the two performers is outstanding.

A small criticism of an otherwise perfect show – much of the material was delivered in a more enjoyable manner than the originals, betraying too much musical and personal integrity to be entirely genuine renditions of pop pap. The depth of research into the oeuvres of Ms Minogue and various manufactured bands of the past two decades also raises an eyebrow, entertaining as it may have been.

Pop Centrelink is more than a sum of its parts, Frisky’s clarion clear vocals and Mannish’s stunning falsetto to bass transitions, deftly choreographed sly sendups and witty asides to audience, all sparklingly delivered with vim and verve.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

United Agents UK present
Frisky and Mannish’s Pop Centrelink
Cast: Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones

The Spiegeltent, Northbridge
5 February–18 February 2012
Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.