What does it take to be a hero?
Michelle Zahner has the answer in her one-woman theatre show, A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery.
The performance is an elaborate story, staged simply. All characters are played by Zahner, shifting between each by switching-out a key costume item.
In addition, Zahner makes subtle but effective adjustments in her speech and deportment to further communicate each persona.
The thread of the show follows an everyday hero, someone who perhaps doesn’t have super powers but none the less has an impact on her environment.
It explores storytelling concepts with the introduction of the hero’s sidekick; who owns a story, the person who lived it or the person who tells it? And who’s to say what makes a story heroic anyway?
As the protagonists tag team through the narrative, a variety of storytelling techniques are used. The script, in many parts, is more poem than prose, almost rhythmic in parts.
To add illustration to anecdotes, Zahner uses an old style overhead projector. It lights up transparencies of newspaper articles and hand drawn scenes.
The projector is also used for some shadow puppetry. Small figures in silhouette acting out a thought or concept. This aspect of the show could use improvement. Maybe slightly larger figures would be more distinct and easier to manipulate, for better effect on the big screen.
The opening night served up a couple of prop hiccups which will no doubt be ironed out over the coming performances and Zahner worked with what she had to maintain the storyline.
Overall, the connection made between performer and audience was good. The monologue ending the play brings home the key message of the role we all play in being a hero. Audience members are even offered a souvenir to take home as a reminder of this.
A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery is playing at The Gold Digger until 25 February.