Reviewed by Eilis Lee.
Returning for their tenth year at the Edinburgh Fringe, musical cabaret masters Frisky and Mannish have brought the audio spectacular that is PopLab to leafy George Square, and it’s exactly that: spectacular. Armed with a keyboard, a ridiculously voluminous wig, a shed-load of diamante, and a chilling hypothesis — Ed Sheeran’s brand of tropical house may just be unstoppable — the duo pack the hour-long show with a frankly dangerous amount of laughs and hit comical peaks as astronomically high as Ariana Grande’s whistle tone.
The essence of Grande herself is something that Frisky and Mannish take aim at in their scientific riffs. But don’t worry if you’ve avoided being initiated into Grande’s pop-cult thus far – there’s material suitable for everyone here. From Bo’ Selecta jokes to an unforgettable re-interpretation of Bruno Mars (with some pit-stops mocking Moby along the way), PopLab’s experiments span a huge swathe of musical history. Nobody is safe from their microscopic melodic probing—not even 90s Celt-pop icons The Corrs (a reference that, I have to admit, I quietly screamed at in the moment). Music lovers will be in their element, but you don’t have to know much about music to thoroughly enjoy the show, either. Upon leaving, I only heard one person mention that they didn’t get one of the musical references. The diverse audience ate each set up, especially loving the simple-yet-inspired audience interaction, a genius riff on Rickrolling.
PopLab is possibly the best, most entertaining show I’ll see at Fringe, and we’re barely a few days into August. Alongside possessing brilliant musical talent, the duo absolutely know their stuff about music, and about how to make people laugh—it’s why they can improvise and entertain so, so well. Ridiculous, bizarre, and hilarious, Frisky and Mannish have outdone themselves for their tenth Fringe anniversary. Their energy and obvious adoration for everything pop is electric; PopLab channels this perfectly. Go.
Frisky and Mannish’s PopLab runs at Spiegeltent Palace du Variete at 7pm until 25th August.