Abi Roberts: Anglichanka

Abi Roberts adorns her ushanka hat and jovially welcomes her audience into Anglichanka her cavernous theatre space at Underbelly Colgate with a thick Russian accent. We are all seated and after a bit of Russian banter she drops the accent, revealing her London timbre. The Russian speakers in the audience are singled out, and we are hurled into Abi Roberts’ tales of escaping her mother to study Russian in Cardiff. After failing her first year exams, her mother secretly enrols her in Moscow Conservatory to study opera, and she is flown to to Moscow to live her mother’s dream of becoming an opera singer.

We leave feeling quite inspired and emotionally moved.

Roberts tells her stories with honesty and a lot of pleasure in sharing with the audience, and of course - they are hilarious. She tells us of her host family, with is token babooshka, drinking vodka, studying under a famous professor, gay rights, and how Moscow was a very different place in the 90s. Her performance singing a Marge Simpson impression opera piece is oddly just as fantastic as her operatic rendition of Chicago’s All That Jazz, which is sung entirely in Russian. Throughout all the joyful stories we are treated to, Roberts speaks with such passion and wonder at all the threads that have woven through her life that roots her to Russia, and what has brought her to stand-up comedy. It’s a delightful look at life’s ironies and synchronicity.

Roberts’ references the extreme laws and social politics of Russia today and compares it to her time there in the 90s. The audience are just as enchanted by her experiences there as Roberts herself, so it is devastating when we learn she had to flee to England during the 1993 constitutional crisis. It was refreshing to see a stand-up comedian who can make us laugh but also keep us so immersed in her story and the people she knew that we leave feeling quite inspired and emotionally moved.

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

Anglichanka is an exhilarating comedy show about living in the USSR in the 90s and going back as the first UK comic to perform comedy in English and Russian. In this show, find out about gay rights and censorship in Russia, the consequences of drinking hardcore vodka, studying opera and using outdoor loos in -20 temperatures, and see how Russia has changed since the 90s. Discover what we need to know about Putin, the meerkat with nuclear weapons. 'True comedy genius. Don't miss!' (GQ). ‘An incredible stand-up show... and a one-of-a-kind stand-up show’ ***** (EdFestMag.com).