Theatre Review: FRISKY & MANNISH: POPCORN – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield [ONLINE]

Mixing music with comedy to great effect, POPCORN is a cinema-themed musical comedy extravaganza.

4 out of 5 stars

Following their critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe live show POP LAB, cabaret comedy duo Frisky and Mannish make a welcome return to the stage with their all-new digital project: POPCORN.

Described as part-movie, part-live show, part-parody and part-love letter to cinema, POPCORN is a cinema-themed musical comedy extravaganza celebrating the music of great films.

In true Frisky and Mannish style, the duo rigorously examines the inner workings of great films, including MRS DOUBTFIRE, INCEPTION and BRIDESMAIDS, to name but a few.
The best of the comedy is when the duo performs on stage, interacting with the audience with their usual pop song ‘tit-aboutery’.

The show opens, somewhat abruptly, with a sketch about the questionable lyrics in popular film songs, such as MY HEART WILL GO ON, A WHOLE NEW WORLD and THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.

A sketch in which Beatrice and Eugene perform LET IT GO from Frozen is well received by the audience, as is a sequence in which the duo mimic actors in popular musical films such as MAMMA MIA and CHICAGO, which gets the biggest laughs.

Here, Frisky and Mannish – real names are Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones – do what they do best.

Mixing music with comedy, the pair boasts incredible musical talent, Corcoran’s vocal performance standing out as she belts out classics like LOVEFOOL (in the style of ALL BY MYSELF) and the finale WHEN YOU BELIEVE.

A highlight of the show is their mishmash of pop songs sung in the style of Bond themes, including a hilarious interpretation of Shaggy’s IT WASN’T ME (performed by Floyd Jones) and Spice Girls’ WANNABE, sung in style GOLD FINGER.

Unlike their previous world premieres, however, POPCORN is a digital event. The collaboration between the Lawrence Batley Theatre and sees live-filmed sketch sequences combine with original video content and stunning visual effects, with a loose storyline of how the show came to be made.

The video sections are well-executed, with a nice homage to films like SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and JURASSIC PARK, and some impressive visual effects which help bring sketches, such as the spoof film trailers, to life.

Yet, for all its creativity, the video sequences don’t always flow well with the live-action scenes, and at times, you find yourself wanting them to hurry along so you can get back to the live stage sketches.

The show also tends to lag as it nears its end. The comedy gets a little daft, and the storyline starts to lose its edge, giving the feeling that the show would benefit from a tighter run time of 60 minutes instead of its actual 71 minutes.

That said, these are minor criticisms that don’t take away from the fun and craziness of this action-packed, comedic romp. If you’re a fan of cinema, you’re sure to enjoy this joyous, musicalcomedyganza about the silver screen!

FRISKY & MANNISH: POPCORN was filmed at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield and is available to stream until 14 November 2021.