This Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS is precisely the kind of show that makes The Adelaide Cabaret Festival so very fabulous. It is a show that looks attractive on one level and when you bite into it, you find it is dripping with delicious, expected joy and sugary delight.
Matthew Floyd Jones in the non Frisky half of Frisky and Mannish, who have been a massive hit this opening weekend. His solo show on the surface, might imply it is a guy in a wig knocking out some Carpenters tunes. But it turns out to be an hilarious, heartfelt, layered, silly and considered masterwork. Is there a wig, indeed. Are there Carpenters songs, sort of. The light go down in the intimate Artspace and a song plays over the PA, it clearly states that this show is not the real Richard Carpenter and asks us not to take any legal action. Opening with a calypso instrumental version of Masquerade we are soon in a parade of not quite copy write infringing from the Carpenters oeuvre. They might sound like the songs you know, but the lyrics have been altered to avoid being sued. Literally The Beginning sounds an awful lot like It’s Only Just Begun. A song that could be Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby tonight is Is That The Way To Treat Somebody You Used To Call Baby? Close to You has images of fish suicides. Jones has fantastic comic timing and a magic skills as a singer and pianist. Over the course of an hour it morphs into nuanced balance of telling a satirical but affectionate version of the Richard Carpenter story, but manages to deconstruct the fleeting nature of fame and expose the hardships of being slightly to the side of the main star in the spotlight. At the same time it is relatable to anybody who hasn’t been the favourite sibling, or who has had their own ‘Marsha Marsha Marsha’ Jan Brady moment.
After the death of his sister Karen in 1983 the real Richard Carpenter struggled to get any traction with his own career with each meeting, mall opening and TV appearance being focused on people wanting to talk about his sister. For a while he was rehashing Carpenters material with reworks and re-recordings but becoming ever more frustrated at not being able to move forward with his own compositions and work. Tonight Floyd Jones does a sterling job of juggling the superficial cheesiness of people’s idea of Carpenter, the love of their music, with real affection and pathos for his personal struggles. It’s a redemption story, albeit a really funny one.
Highlights are many but his take on Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen, as a allegory of the other less popular siblings in famous families (Linda Nolan, Jackie Jackson, that other Jonas Brother) a lovely sing along to Sing A Song and he magnificent show closer of Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, were all exceptional.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review by Ian Bell