Sam Underwood, the actor and performer best known for his roles in Dexter and Fear the Walking Dead, comes to the Fringe with Losing Days, a musical show about his life with bipolar disorder.
The story itself is a familiar one, albeit no less powerful for being true. Underwood, as a young actor, was unable to understand the nature of the disorder. Undiagnosed but suffering, he didn’t know how to confront it. His bipolar resulted in the breakdown of a relationship; and it was only after it had placed a considerable strain on his marriage that he started pursuing treatment. This is the essence of Losing Days: it is the story of realisation, of the arduous and winding road to acceptance.
“Underwood is an energetic and likeable speaker”
The crux of the story is the replaying of his first psychotic episode, which took place during a long road trip. It was on this trip that he was ‘saved’ by the music of Frank Turner. Turner’s music is a huge part of the show; with the aid of a talented backup guitarist, the whole of Losing Days is punctuated with his songs. They are performed well, with pre-recorded drums but slick, energetic live guitars and vocals. Underwood himself is a gifted singer and musical theatre enthusiast, a passion that manifests itself in a brief tap dancing routine, played chiefly for laughs.
Losing Days never goes into too much detail about the medical specifics of bipolar. It is not the story of the disorder, but rather the story of one man’s specific and personal experience. The musical numbers work as an artistic representation of the emotional polarising. Oscillating between the fierce energy of the music and the relatively subdued spoken sections – although Underwood is an energetic and likeable speaker – gives a nice effect of mania and depression, in some tonal sense. Frank Turner fans will likely adore this show, but Losing Days has enough dramatic heft and personality to charm even Turner sceptics.
Image: Sam Underwood