Following the success of their show School of Pop at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the comedy cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish have rapidly gone from being an on-the-cusp, word-of-mouth act to something altogether bigger.
Their gimmick is simple but wonderfully executed: they take well known pop songs and twist and tweak the lyrics in ways that are often inspired.
Their Kate Bush/Nash mash up is a thing of brilliance – and, at the request of the audience, its how they finish this sold out festive-themed set somewhere beneath the pavements of Knightsbridge.
Pizza on the Park is a slightly faded subterranean cabaret space owned by Pizza Express. An array of tables are semi-circled around a small, red-curtained stage bedecked with few sad silver tufts of tinsel in a rather limp nod to the season; the audience are given time to munch on overpriced pizzas before the entertainment begins. While the duo are more than capable of working more conventional spaces, and their recent stint up in Edinburgh was closer to a rock gig in atmosphere, they seem particularly suited to venues of this kind where theres more scope for interaction and nuance.
This festive offering, their Twistmas Treat, sees them turning their attention to Christmas songs, a genre easier to mock than most. That said, their reworking of Baby Its Cold Outside, with a corseted and purple-wigged Frisky playing the part of an over-refreshed and overly forward work colleague not taking the hint that its time to depart, is wonderful, an encapsulation of what they do best ( I really cant stay. Yes, it is getting a bit late.) Later, old chums Lily Allen and Noel Coward duet on The Pogues Fairytale of New York, with the expletive-averse Coward coerced into having some kind of Tourettian breakdown by the end.
After a brief burlesque interlude (involving both gin and nipple tassels) they turn their attentions to the Twelve Days of Christmas. With the help of suggestions from the audience gathered during the interval, this somewhat tedious carol becomes an altogether more amusing thing which Frisky, employing a flipchart and her best school mistress manner, turns into a sing-a-long. Their entertainingly reworked countdown has people chanting along to five rape alarms before concluding with the enigmatic partridge stand-in of a pony wrapped up in a box.
True, there is some repetition to what they do some of their targets are obvious, especially in this Christmas show. But what sets them apart is their skill as musicians and their force of personality. None of this would work as well as it does if they werent both talented (Friskys vocal range is particularly impressive) and their rapport as a double act, both with the audience and with each other, is also an asset. They know how to work a room and they worked this one particularly well, leaving the audience calling for more.