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A MODERN GUIDE TO HEROISM AND SIDEKICKERY gets 7/10 Whoo! Superhero landing!

A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery @ The Gold Digger (for Fringe)
Friday, February 16, 2018

7/10

How do you become a superhero? Given that you’re not an orphan billionaire, with a fetish for bats, rubber, vengeance, and throat lozenges – how does one go about fighting for truth, justice, and a pigeon-free way? When the skies are filled with flying rats, or llamas prowl the street, who will strap on a mask and a cape to save the day? Michelle Zahner seeks to answers these questions in A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery.

As a plague of pigeons descends upon the city, one person realises they are uniquely placed to do something about it. From her vantage point on the rooftops The Shadow (or maybe Pigeon-Girl, or… no, let’s just stick with The Shadow) seeks to defeat the pigeon scourge, and any other problem that may plague the city. From street crime, to escaped zoo animals, to untold bedtime stories, The Shadow, attempts to help the citizenry, but when she befriends a struggling paper-boy as a confidant (and possible sidekick) things start to spiral out of control.

It’s easy to expect a deep dive into comic book geekery filled with a plethora of Marvel and DC Easter eggs. Instead Michelle Zahner takes a more universal approach, looking at the heart of what it means to be a hero, and humanities need to worship them. The result is pretty rough and ready, but oddly poignant for that, as the one-woman show (mostly) humanises the super-human. This is not a world of spandex clad ubermensch, but rather someone that has decided to help where they can – in their own unique pigeon scaring, tile-kicking, and dairy milk chocolate eating way. It also shows how all this can go wrong, when a legend can get out of hand as we put heroes on a pedestal, and expect them to solve all our problems.

Zahner enthusiastically combat rolls her way into a plethora of roles, with the aid of a pair of Clark Kent glasses, a ubiquitous grey hoodie, and a trusty utility belt. Here the emphasis is on storytelling, as she shifts between narrator and characters to convey her tale. That rough and ready aesthetics actually helps the show, and despite a few equipment fails (some more deliberate than others), and the occasional extended pause to recall a line, Zahner manages to convey an emotional and heart-warming story. Undeterred by having an overhead projector and a sharpie to replace a multi-million dollar special effects budget A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery manages something a slew of superhero films fail to do – it sticks the landing, giving audiences a thought provoking experience.

DAVID O’CONNELL

A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery runs till February 25 at The Gold Digger. For tickets and more information visit the event page here.

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