Where do I start? Much like the show, I'll begin at the end. I currently find myself sitting by myself on the far reaches of platform 16B at Southern Cross Station, scribbling notes into my recently purchased little pocket notebook, while I wait for another hour for the 2355 train to take me home to my loved ones. Hero Complex finished some 2 hours ago and yet I still cannot get the grin off of my face.
I made the trek to the Northcote Town Hall on the famous No.86 Tram not really knowing what to expect, when I was greeted by sign at the main entrance saying to use the West Wing entrance, so I turned and followed the sign to the West Wing. It turns out that, for the unwary, the entrance seems much like a closely guarded secret, much like the waterfall in the Deep Woods. After I had circumnavigated the hall like an old Banagallan cartographer of yesteryear I found myself at the West Wing entrance... about 40 meters up from where I had started if I had just gone in the other direction!
Over the next half and hour the crowd started to build and I was pleased to see a good splash of purple amongst the audience. Whether they had done this knowingly or not, their choice was appreciated by this purple shirt wearing phan...
Upon entering the theatre my heart was warmed as we were greeted with the Good Mark of the Phantom emblazoned upon the projector screen with the 1996 movie soundtrack blasting through the speakers. It seems to be letting you know that your phandom will be protected here. Also, sitting up beside the electric piano are a number of items of Phantom merchandise, which I can't wait to see how they will be utilised in the show.
Once the crowd is seated out comes Sammy J for a touch of pre-show banter with the audience- who are very responsive to everything he does. A very friendly crowd, which is what every one wants.
Then the show starts.
What follows is a 1 hour autobiography of 1 man's love of the Phantom, democracy and of his high school's gardener.
Knowing that his audience may not be as phamiliar with our hero as others may be, Sammy gives a kind of "for those who came in late" run down in the form of a trivia night where he questions and answers a number of Phantom related phacts to help everyone start on an even keel. This segment also includes his opening song which has a major writing credit to Lee Falk. Sammy has been kind enough to offer this song to the X Band for use in the podcasts and I think everyone will get a kick out of it.
From there his story starts with the end, where he teases us with half an anecdote about a Federal Policeman following him up to his attic after a little bit of crime. Sammy then rewinds to the start where he recounts experiences phans around Australia know only too well - being the only nerd at school into the Phantom. Luckily he, like many of us, is able to find a like minded soul and in Sammy's case this soul was in the form of his High School's Gardener. To say that Sammy J hero worships this man is really selling it short.
He idolises him like some type of lawn mowing, compost spreading, tractor riding deity.
Unfortunately his idol cannot not stay and Sammy must grow up. It is during this time of change and isolation that Sammy, much like Diana before him, gets a job with the UN and starts building strong intercontinental relationships that last even to this day. However, being diplomatic can be quite trying and Sammy finds himself in a Simon Peteresque situation which, though some good comes out of it, leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
While his diplomatic and comedic career start to flourish he just can't seem to shake the memory of his Phantom loving High School Gardener.
The rest you can hear at the show...
What you need to know is that the show is full of fun and that while the Phantom is a central element to the performance, Sammy never alienates his audience because of it. In fact he treats the character with such love, respect and passion that I wouldn't be surprised if many of the the audience didn't go out and purchase the latest Frew the first chance they got (which is ideal as his show coincides with Frew's 80th Anniversary Issue).
So, tell your Phamily, Phriends, work colleagues, passing acquaintances. Send a message out on the jungle drums... Sammy J's "Hero Complex" is contagious phun that embraces the inner geek in all of us.
LONG LIVE THE PHANTOM!
Sammy J's Hero Complex is now playing as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival until Saturday, 1st October.
Where: Northcote Town Hall
When: 8pm (except Sundays when its 7pm)
Running Time: Approx. 1 hour
Rating: PG - a little bit of swearing - used very sparingly
Transport: The no. 86 tram stops right out the front
Tickets: Full: $32, Concession/ Groups of 4+/ Cheap Tuesday: $27,
Available from: https://melbournefringe.com.au/