Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994
24 March 2014
The Toff (but the show's at the Victoria Hotel)
to 19 April
In 2012, Hamo waved goodbye to stand up.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
He did 155 gigs in 2013 – some in Afghanistan, instead of doing the 2013 festivals – and gig 40 for 2014 was the Melbourne's first chance to see his new show, Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994, that he premiered at the 2014 Adelaide Fringe.
I'd still love him to lock himself away from stages and write, but this show wouldn't exist if he'd done that and, to be fair, he writes about EVERY gig he does on his blog (justinhamilton.com.au). Blog writing so counts – and he was very happy with gig 40, "... it felt just right."
And it was. I joked on Twitter that it was my favourite show of the festival. I wasn't joking; it's going to take a lot to beat this.
Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994 starts with a smooth-concrete sidewalk in quiet suburban Adelaide and moves to a war zone in Afghanistan where the military cars can survive anything except a suicide bomber.
As always with his work, it's personal and exposing but told with enough distance to let his audience put themselves in his shoes and imagine what they would have or have done at similar times. I haven't been in a war zone, but I recognised the conflicting and confronting emotions of seeing a woman who has nothing trying to sell a necklace, and I remember my little brother walking through wet concrete walking home after I'd been picked up from kindy. The council replaced that block.
It's not traditional stand up or theatrical monologue. He's found something in between that's flexible and works so well for him that it's hard to imagine him doing anything else. (I felt something similar to, the first time I saw Daniel Kitson perform.)
It's so beautifully written that I want to read it, but it wouldn't compare to the experience of Justin telling his story. He's gut-aching, mind-whirling, unforgettable funny and never to be missed.
I also talk about this show on AussieTheatre.com.