Edinburgh Fringe 2018
In a world dazed, confused, and often overwhelming, Michelle Zahner brings out the modern day hero in us all.
You ever feel like you are surrounded by people but completely alone, invisible or misunderstood? The Shadow knows…no, not that Shadow, but rather the hero of Michelle Zahner’s zany imagination. In a world short on heroes, and a city short on pigeons, one woman emerges not out of need or necessity but out of circumstance, coincidence, and the unforeseen consequences of social media.
This is the kind of solo show which I love, one which is so much more than the sum of its parts, which reveals itself layer upon layer and ends so far from where it begins as to bewilder the viewer how we all got here. It is, as stated on the tin, very funny, a story of a hero and sidekick, which could easily line the pages of a comic book…sorry, graphic novel…and that would be enough but this story refuses to remain on the page, refuses to remain in two dimensions and crashes, awkwardly and beautifully into our world and our collective psyche.
Michelle’s great strength is her willingness to lay herself bare, to be completely vulnerable to an audience and she wears her awkwardness with an elegance which makes even the most ungainly among us feel like a prima ballerina or Parkour disciple. A master of comic timing, Michelle delivers with minimalist sight gags, wink-to-the-audience low budget humor, ripe for harvesting at a Fringe, impeccable physical gags, and a healthy sprinkling of audience interaction, but it is her humanity, her innate ability to connect with the audience on a visceral level which is so remarkable and unexpected in what could otherwise be an enjoyable, but forgettable story in the vast sea of shows in Edinburgh. A Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery isn’t simply a comic book come to life but it is a modern day allegory for change.
In a world where so many of us have lost our connection, where a 24 hour news cycle has made us feel not more informed but overwhelmed, where we know more about Dogs of Facebook than our own neighbors, perhaps we all need a visit from the Shadow and a reminder not only that heroes are among us, but in us all if we only choose to see them hiding in plain sight, hiding in the shadows. Look left, look right, look up, and look within, but most importantly look in the Zoo Sanctuary for a bit of sanctuary of your own. Capes welcome but not required.