Elsa, written and performed by Isobel Rogers, is a musical journey through the conversations overheard by a waitress who’s stuck in a rut. As she eavesdrops on the coffee mornings with the girls, she imagines what goes on in their private lives and muses on things such as why she’s struggling to pay rent and social media fakery.
Rogers is a relaxed performer and instantly sweeps the audience into her show with an introductory song about Elsa and how she came to work in a London cafe. She’s a compelling storyteller and the introduction is a warm and funny song that hooks your attention; the perfect start to a show that’s witty, cleverly written and held together with a cracking voice.
Elsa introduces us to characters such as the newly single customer who used to come in with her fiancé but now comes in alone; the woman who had a one night stand and divulges all the info to her judgemental friend; and an older advertising executive who Elsa longs to be like. Rogers is brilliant at embodying a certain kind of Chelsea resident with their plummy tones and overuse of the word “babe”. Her characterisations are very funny and the fact that she does multiple characters whilst also keeping rhythm with her guitar and holding a tune is an impressive feat.
All the characters Rogers chooses to portray are women or girls and this gives a nice insight into the hopes and dreams of women of all different ages. Through the characters, we gain an insight into Elsa’s own dreams and the universal problem of struggling to balance your dreams and the need to make a living.
The song about the one night stand is a particularly great moment in the show as Rogers tackles representations of women’s sexuality and references the classic line, “not that type of girl'”. The song is fast-paced, funny and has some audience members shouting “yeah!” in agreement and appreciation.
It’s easy to wonder how much of Elsa is an autobiographical tale for Rogers; has she worked money jobs while waiting for a dream big break? Whether there’s a grain of truth to the tale or not, it’s clear that Rogers shouldn’t stop dreaming. This is an incredibly sweet, interesting and funny show from a talented performer.