A conversation with Anya Anastasia, Michael Griffiths and Hans the German

All three artists have prior experience of the Edinburgh Fringe – this is Anya’s third full run and this year her show incorporates a very different feel to last year’s offering. This is Michael’s sixth time here, and his fourth full run – paying homage to one of Aussie’s other finest exports, Kylie. Hans has had guest spots a plenty previously, and is performing his second full run with a punchy pseudo german cabaret act.

Cabaret is a vehicle for channelling frustration and asking questions which in turn mutually provoke the audiences.

Anya’s show this year is called The Executioners, and is born of her increasing frustration at the powerlessness of the individual in the context of escalating political affairs. Anya views cabaret as her vehicle for channelling frustration and asking questions which in turn mutually provoke her audiences. The politics of the show relate to Anya’s increasing feeling of powerlessness and how to engage with others: a sense that although we feel like the centre of our universe via social media, the narcissism of tech addiction and social media is devastating natural connections.

Michael similarly enjoys cabaret as a vehicle for change, with the more subtle element of escapism as his motivation. Previously he has performed as Annie Lennox and as Madonna, so the Kylie show is a formula he is very comfortable with: assuming the identity of an icon. Michael’s stab at the submerse is that via his performance, he is 'screwing with gender and shamelessly nostalgic’. The power of pop and element of nostalgia is tangible, and Michael attributes his success to the fact that people want to be transported to a happier place when Charlene and Scott got married. Full of Stock, Aitken & Waterman references, the show also follows the liminal journey of Kylie and her gentle arc from pop princess to her rebirth as a disco diva.

Hans describes his show as ‘a Cher show on a Tulisa budget’, and these quick witticisms abound in our conversation. Hans is naturally effervescent as he enthuses about his show, unapologetically describing it as ‘nothing deep and meaningful; a full energy live band, lots of laughs and Pussycat Dolls on the accordion – average comedy but with better costumes’. Hans shares that his mother has created all his costumes, from his first pair of hot pants – ‘cabaret’s Chris Jenner’. Hans is hot from his participation in America’s Got Talent, where he has reached the final.

All three performers have a massive queer fan base, and Michael shared that it’s important to him that art explores the current state of humanity. This show in particular, however, is about complete escapism and for this reason he intentionally veers away from anything political. It’s an expression of queer positivity in itself however, as his show is ‘gay as gay. super gay, in a positive way’ – and of all the genres in the `Fringe, cabaret is queerer than anything else. It’s always subversive, which is in itself political.

Anya shares that for her, the beauty of cabaret is that it can offer an opportunity to laugh about what’s going on and also to escape from it. Whatever point of the laughter and escapism spectrum that a performance sits on, it’s valid at this point in history and reflective of common thought. Anya wants her show to embody this breaking of tension, and indeed her show last year was thick with exploration of sexual fluidity. This year’s show doesn’t so much involve that side of who she is, however as she feels queer audiences embrace her as someone different who doesn’t quite fit in.

Classically trained pianist and tap dancer Hans is particularly looking forward to the Scottish element to his show, featuring a live band and a tribute to our very own SuBo, as well as general flamboyant Weimar post-war cabaret. Michael’s show features some songs as Kylie sang them - ‘you don’t fuck with I Should Be So Lucky’, and one has to agree! However I am intrigued to hear his reimagined, subverted, mash-up tracks. Anya shares that she had to fit in substantial training for this year’s show, which features a fight scene developed by herself and choreographers who worked on Wolverine. This allowed Anya to add new skills to her tool belt and we all remember her back flips onto audience’s laps at last year’s show.

Anya Anastasia is performing her eponymous show Anya Anastasia: The Executioners, at the Gilded Balloon at 20.00 daily. Michael Griffiths brings his act Songs by Kylie to Assembly George Square at 17.20 daily, whilst Hans performs his very own Hans - Like A German show at the Assembly Rooms at 21.50 daily.

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