Prague Fringe 2012 – The Upside Down Girl
“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!”
– JAMES DAVIDSON, 01/06/2012, FRINGE REVIEW
THE UPSIDE-DOWN GIRL (4 stars)
“Anya Anastasia’s first solo show tells of an imaginary friend which will have you searching your memory for any of your own fictitious creations whom you have abandoned.
It’s a quirky tale with wonderful original songs involving Romeo and Juliet, killers and polar bears. She looked gorgeous in her costumes even with fake blood dripping down her neck. This talented performer entertained for 50 minutes on keyboard, ukulele and half a ukulele, successfully competing with the raucous pub-goers at the Crown and Anchor hotel.
Anya Anastasia has successfully made the transition to solo performer and deserves the best of luck at the Prague Fringe Festival.”
– TESSA ACKERMAN, THE ADEVRTISER
VIOLET RAPSCALLION (5 stars)
Forget commercial comedy and half-baked theatrics. This is Fringe at its wild and spunky best.
Bird Wizdom has evolved into Violet Rapscallion, taken wing and returned to scratch its initials on shiny surfaces.
Anya’s cynical lovestruck songs of stalking and rejection, backed by ukulele, cello and trombone as well as keyboards and guitars will grab your ears and bend them sideways.
The wild choreography counterpointed by Lily’s elegant bellydancing will mesmerise you, and the whole bizarrely costumed ensemble pours out immense energy from the tiny and crowded Nexus stage.
Even half as much would be fantastic, but the overwhelming effect really leaves you reeling.
- EWART SHAW, THE ADVERTISER
OF BIRD WIZDOM’S FIRST ALBUM ECLECTION (4 stars)
“Adelaide’s ambitious Bird Wizdom is easily the oddest and most beguiling act to emerge in a long time.
Devilishly intriguing vocalist Anya McNicol-Windram weaves blackly-humoured tragic-comic tales over crazy keyboards and Melanie Pryor’s sublime cello accompaniment as if she were the carnival-raised offspring of Tom Waits and Cabaret’s Sally Bowles.
The music twirls between sardonic playfulness (rolling Boat Song, Spades, and relationship crash of the title track), adorable self-depreciation (It Could Be), beauteous reflections (Fledgeling Thoughts and Cottonfields) and the cinematically elegiac (Garden and Graveyard). A stand-out is the demented love ode Hooks (augmented by tasty lashings of Marc Ribot-esque guitar from Tom Windram). In live performance, BW is also decadently colourful. This is an extraordinary debut from a remarkable talent. Bird Wizdom appears in Enthusiasm, Please! as part of Feast at Higher Ground from Tuesday to Friday.”
– PAUL NASSARI