Prague Fringe 2012
Is she a figment of our imagination… or are we a figment of hers? By the time the The Upside Down Girl has finished with us, nothing makes sense anymore. Displaying touches of virtuosity on piano, keyboard and even ‘half a ukulele,’ our long-lost imaginary friend serenades us with a series of songs on the eternal themes of social awkwardness, doomed romance and death. Mixing elements of burlesque and physical comedy, including an upside-down unicycle ride, this is a modern twist on cabaret with a heavy dose of the surreal.
Anya Anastasia and her Bird Wizdom Cabaret are the hottest property on the Adelaide arts scene. They have performed both nationally and internationally with their eclectic mix of original music, comedy, dance and theatre. This year at Prague Fringe Anya is performing alone, but her entourage of weird clowns and gothic assistants still exert their presence at the show, mingling with the audience before and after while interacting with the performance to comic effect.
The quality of the song-writing is the strength of the show, combining catchy hooks with quirky lyrics that range from the hilarious to the tear-inducing to the downright bizarre. And while each tune is great in its own right, taken together they link to form a kind of story with several twists and turns.
The songs also offer ample opportunity for their singer to showcase her vocal talents, sounding something like an Australian Joanna Newsom with touches of Kate Bush when she really lets loose, Anya held the audience in rapture during the real show-stopping moments of her act. In particular, the show built up to a climax as Anya switched to the piano, sat sideways on to the crowd and rocking about on the stool like a young Ray Charles.
I found myself totally caught up in this odd story of a lonely imaginary friend, forgotten by her creator, who comes back to haunt his imagination in later years. It was clear from the beginning that we were probing into some pretty surreal territory and it was a pleasure to watch it all unfold, with some gothic touches of physical performance including an enactment of her own beheading.
All in all, for a combination of comedy, music and thought-provoking ideas, you can’t go wrong with The Upside-Down Girl. At times it’s hard to believe that all the zany characters and voices are being held together by just a single performer. Don’t miss this chance to be reunited with a long-lost childhood friend!