The phrase ‘cake and death’ brings to mind two people: Eddie Izzard and Marie Antoinette. Anya Anastasia’s Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death manages to be a strange mix of both, with glitzy costumes, hedonism and satire galore. Supported by percussionist Bec Matthews, Anastasia’s songs are catchy, spine tingling and devilishly funny.
Unravelling herself inside the Melba Spiegeltent, Anastasia embodies the spirit of Marie Antoinette. It takes the crowd a little while to relax and allow themselves to be pulled into the other world of this outlandish Australian temptress. They are though, they can’t help but be; Anastasia’s decadence and dalliances are bounced off the wooden floors and skitter through the audience. Everyone sits on the edge of their seats. Cabaret seems to belong in Spiegeltents.
Torte e Morte: Songs of Cake and Death is directed by two pillars of the Melbourne alternative theatre scene, Sarah Ward (Yana Alana) and Sue Broadway. It’s no surprise then that the show traverses so many extremes, all tied together by the wide swing of cabaret. There’s not much to the story, though there doesn’t need to be, the themes hold each other up, supported by atmosphere. The characters are archetypal, but Anastasia brings her own flare, and accent, to them all. The costumes and make up are appropriately outlandish, all of them complementing Anastasia’s physicality.
The music in the production is enthralling. Well-written and well-performed, Anastasia’s vocals and piano play perfectly with Matthews’ drumming. There is the odd phrase with too many syllables wedged into a run that doesn’t suit it, and a handful of moments where the song looks to be a miss. Yet Anastasia’s performance always returns it to ear candy. Matthews is magnetic as well, filling the transitions with sound.
Torte E Morte: Songs of Cake and Death has a brief run at Melbourne Fringe that finishes on Sunday, and it won’t be onstage again until Perth’s Fringe World festival next year, so give in to your impulse and buy a ticket.
Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death is on at the Melba Spiegeltent at 8:30pm until Sunday September 20th. Tickets cost $25 and are available from the Melbourne Fringe website.