Anya Anastasia, a former Adelaidian, is making a name for herself as a subversive cabaret performer and a hard-working one – this is her second show at this year’s Fringe, following a run of her take on Marie Antoinette – Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death.
In Rogue Romantic, Anastasia is first seen slumped at the grand piano, wearing a ball gown and with a slightly romantic, slightly unhinged-looking hair-do. She awakes and begins a delicate song about her romantic yearnings which, like just about every song in this show, takes a steep descent into dashed hopes (which, in this case, “dissolved like a Berocca”).
Anastasia’s diva character takes us on a brief trip through her romantic hopes and delusions, with the show really taking off when she begins to interact with the audience, including a very funny sequence in which she declares love for one after another of the hapless people in the front row (“you’re my one true love… for now”).
Anastasia is built for cabaret. Her voice, which is a kind of indy-pop Kate-Bush-with-an-Aussie-accent deranged-soprano combo, is the carrier for story-telling and character – she’s not trying to impress us with her vocal gymnastics.
The writing is also clever, with deft rhymes and images (“burned like a Goth in the desert”) peppered through the surprising twists and turns.
She’s backed by a three-piece band, who interact in a light way with her, but Anastasia is the focus and the star of this show.
She’s charming and funny, and isn’t afraid to throw a bit of physical theatre into the mix.
Anastasia has a compelling stage presence, and a smart approach to cabaret. I haven’t seen her other shows, but I wondered if this one could have benefited from even more subversion and chaos, as seen in the denouement – a tangle of arms and legs, a celebration of self-love, which ends with a bang (literally).
Rogue Romantic is playing at the Royal Croquet Club until March 19.
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