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Image: Anya Anastasia

3 Stars

Review by Brodie Paparella

You’ll laugh your heads off!

That’s a decapitation joke. Bear with me.

This cabaret overload has got to be one of the most marvellous curiosities ever encountered by Melbourne Fringe-goers, a feat of continuing sensory peaks presented in the glittering Melba Spiegeltent.

If Kate Bush and Kate Miller-Heidke had a baby, then beat it over the head with a copy of Dante’s Inferno, sold it to Christina Ricci’s portrayal of Wednesday Addams with no worldly possessions but a can of UV paint and a ukulele, you’d have Anya Anastasia. Her depiction of the self-indulgence, bouffon, and delusions of grandeur we’ve come to associate with Marie Antoinette in this modern retelling of her death was as precise as it was entertaining.

With comedic timing to die for, Anastasia gives us cabaret by-the-book, her one-liners executed brilliantly and to hoots from the audience. It was that and her remarkable original songs that guided the audience through her revelations on death, sex and extravagance that really made the show something worth investigating. I’d urge anyone who is interested in cabaret but never sure what they should see, this is the rawest form of the method I’d ever seen. Her fluctuations of costume, character and voice really lend themselves to the knife-edge balance of satire and saccharine she walks with convincing confidence.

Anastasia was masterful at song-crafting and instrumentation, and though some of the more adventurous vocals cost the audience catching the lyrics, no cost came to the laughter enjoyed at her perfect puns and tenacious turn of phrase. Anya’s ability laugh at herself should also be commended, as this was certainly a performance of bravado and hyperbole. There were gimmicks aplenty to keep the ball rolling, in a performance that I could only describe as “outrageous”.

Torte e Morte: Songs of Cake and Death played as part of Melbourne Fringe at the Melba Spiegletent from 16th -20th September.