Blooming marvellous – Anna e rovesciata i fagioli

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 6, 2019

We’ve had an interesting discussion in the office today about entertainment and angst and concluded that, of course, we go out of our way to be entertained by the fortunes of others. But equally by their misfortunes. King Lear, Mimi, Valjean, Baldrick and so on.

Magical jazz singer and actress Anna Vanosi’s Late Bloomers’ Tales falls into a cherry orchard, tragi-comic middle ground. She recounts her life’s journey so far, taking you on it with her (how old is this girl?) and it’s one of disappointment, unfulfillment and ‘late blooming’. And all the while she’s in her pyjamas!  If you get the Facebook clips, it’s a bit of a Daytona Slingshot of a ride.

The road she travels is honest, sometimes intimate, sometimes upsetting. The narrative written, remember, in a language that is not her first, takes in childhood and school, growing up, Christmas, boyfriends, travel, shopping, relationships, time, dreaming, yoga, sex, flip charts. Yes, flip charts! And more.

When I hear that sound, when the walls came down, I was thinking about you …

I don’t think it’s an appeal for her audience to feel “poor you”. Experience and emotion are what we could all write about if we were prepared to be as brutally honest as she is, even with a hint of irony thrown in?

It’s the songs that make/steal the show, and there are a lot of them. Anna is a fabulous singer giving you far more than just melody.  God Bless The Child; Che Sera Sera; Baby You Can Drive My Car (beep beep, beep beep, yeah); Rag n’ Bone Man’s Skin (When I heard that sound, When the walls came down, I was thinking about you); Jack Garratt’s Weathered (When I grow old, I’ll drink and smoke, Like I did when youth stayed …), Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit; Bjork’s Hyper Ballad – and even Santa Baby thrown in for good measure – in August!

Her singing is masterfully supported by Mattia Di Francesco (bass) and Jean-Baptiste Richon (piano), with Lewis Forbes taking over on keys for the second part of the run.

Anna’s engine room: Jean-Baptiste Richon, piano, and Mattia Di Francesco, bass.

Sure, it’s an eclectic musical mix, but one that provides the perfect accompaniment to her storytelling. She wraps up with the shock and despair of a visit to the killing fields of Cambodia, and then describes the perfection and simple happiness she saw in her grandparents’ relationship and their pride in her achievements, serving up some Adele to finish.

This was the first night. If I must be critical, for me the show started at breakneck speed, the dialogue a little rushed, hard at times to make out, and far crisper when Anna uses the mic (although the venue is tiny). The bus has to be moving slowly for us to get on.  But everything settled down and long before we joined the hippies in the hostel it was pretty chilled. As the run progresses, it will only get better and better.

Hey, do they do food here too? Anna hits the hippy hostel.

My favourite line: “saltare da un cazzo all’altro” which Anna translated as “to jump from dick to dick”. Two namechecks for the price of one!

Anna Vanosi’s Late Bloomers Tales runs most evenings at 19.45 up to and including 24 August at The Street (venue 239) 2b Picardy Place, Edinburgh but check web or Fringe programme for more details.

The show is under the PBH Free Fringe banner and un-ticketed, meaning it costs nothing to get in and you pay what you like to get out.  Seems fair to me.

Via, via, via!