Frisky & Mannish return after a five-year hiatus with PopLab, a meticulously researched cabaret act that deconstructs pop music with hilarious consequences. Daniel Perks reviews:

Individually, Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones are fearsome performers, talented musicians and cabaret royalty. Together, however, they are Frisky & Mannish, and that is something altogether different.

Frisky Mannish PopLab Assembly George Square Gardens
Frisky & Mannish (image courtesy of Aemen Sukkar)

This infotainment duo brings PopLab to a packed audience, a show that deconstructs the complexities of pop music and scientifically (!) examines its origins, genetics and physical properties. There is the archaeological fossil of Flee Twoo Dmac, the Margarita Pracatan virus and – a personal favourite – examining the effects of putting a Cockney on (Bruno) Mars.

As is no doubt obvious by now, Frisky & Mannish bring a intelligent musical comedy to the stage.

Frisky Mannish PopLab Assembly George Square Gardens
Frisky & Mannish (image courtesy of Aemen Sukkar)

Every act is enthusiastically received, with Mannish keeping the show moving through some skilful musicianship. But it is Miss Frisky who stands front and centre in this duo – a powerhouse of a voice that can morph Rick Astley into a Sabbath-inspired heavy metal gig, some early-career Daft Punk and a Wagnerian opera. All are audience suggestions, risks that in this performance pay off.

Frisky Mannish PopLab Assembly George Square Gardens
Frisky & Mannish (image courtesy of Aemen Sukkar)

After 10 years together in the business, Frisky & Mannish have a natural rapport, but don’t rely on existing synchronicity to carry their set. PopLab is prepared with meticulous detail, research that follows a scientific level of diligence and methodology. Each act relates to the overall PopLab concept, a scientific laboratory in which musical essence is distilled (mainly from Ed Sheeran) and split apart to further understand its biomechanics.

Frisky Mannish PopLab Assembly George Square Gardens
Frisky & Mannish (image courtesy of Rosie Collins)

Ironically, Frisky & Mannish‘s most popular number is the one that clashes greatest with the PopLab concept. It’s a rare lazy turn for this otherwise hard-working duo, when they break into the ‘Stalker Medley’ – an old favourite, but one that does not marry with the scientific rigour they have applied to every other aspect of the set.

And yet, it’s all met with rapturous applause – this duo is a dream to watch and every act is a new delight. PopLab is another platinum album to add to their extensive arsenal. And after five years away, Edinburgh has missed Frisky & Mannish – it is a joy to have them back.

★★★★☆

Frisky & Mannish’s PopLab is now playing at Assembly George Square Gardens until 25 August 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website.