REVIEW: Anne Wilson in WHAT I DID FOR LOVE

The content is familiar, but the charm is undeniable

By Adam Tonking

Boy meets Girl. Girl falls in love with Boy. Boy runs screaming. This is how relationships work, right?

This is the premise of Sydney-based performer Anne Wilson‘s cabaret What I Did For Love, a startling exploration of what a girl will do when all she really wants is to be loved, and how far she will go to achieve it.

From the moment Wilson steps onto the stage, her pathos is clear and painful – this is a woman who has loved unendurably, and she’s here to tell you about the men who didn’t understand.

Through a series of eclectic song choices – everything from Queen to Hunters and Collectors, this is the journey of making the same mistake over and over in the quest for romance, and indeed, it seems Wilson will do anything for love.

Wilson is clearly an amazing performer. The story is set out in a series of vignettes, with Wilson shining in every song and making every story personal and convincing. Her lovely voice never loses its control of the material even while she’s breaking down emotionally on stage.

Under the watchful eye of music director and accompanist Steven Kreamer, who provides some beautiful arrangements and stands in for the various cads in Wilson’s life, the words and songs flowed seamlessly into each other, never pausing for laughs or applause, and giving the story gravitas and urgency.

In fact, Kreamer’s awkward smile provides a wonderful counterpoint to Wilson’s manic performance. One of my favourite moments came early on when they sung together in their take on “Hernando’s Hideaway”.

I also admired Wilson’s use of the audience. Audience participation can be tricky and awkward, but with Wilson, she was so open and welcoming that it was easy to speak up and be included in her world, and her charm was perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the show.

While it was frustrating at times to hear about her making the same mistakes with all the men in her life, as an audience member you still wanted to help her not abandon her.

The ending arrives a little neatly and quickly, but provides one of the most honest moments of the show and I found myself genuinely moved.

This excellent show only has one more night, but Wilson hints of a move to Melbourne and the cabaret scene here will definitely be better for it, so I highly recommend rushing to see it to encourage her to stay with us.

Anne Wilson in What I Did For Love is on at The Butterfly Club as part of theMelbourne Fringe Festival, October 6th – 8th at 10.30pm.

Book at www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/what-i-did-for-love or www.thebutterflyclub.com.

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