ErictheFred

An ambitious clown show from veteran performer Chris Lynam, ErictheFred never quite lives up to its multimedia promise despite some impressive and funny moments along the way. Entering dejectedly onto the stage, Lynam tears off his wig and tutu in disgust at a bad performance he’s given. He sees a vision – perhaps his younger self, perhaps an alter ego – of a clown making up his face. He follows suit, becomes ErictheFred and treats us to a physical display of what happens when a great performer becomes jaded, wanting desperately to relive his past glories.

An intriguing take on life for the ageing performer

The use of projection is initially promising: there is a gauze screen between audience and performer with which Lynam interacts. He dreams and remembers; warped hallucinations that we are able to see as well. It would have been nice to have more of this – as it is, the projections feel slightly underutilised. Moreover, no matter how pathetic, funny or grotesque Lynam’s clowning is, he is ultimately performing behind a barrier and we feel isolated physically and emotionally as a result.

It is, therefore, in the more ‘traditional’ moments of clowning that Lynam reaches his peak. He chases butterflies, plays instruments and, in a brilliantly surreal piece of jet-black comedy, faces death itself. He is a hugely talented performer and the show’s conclusion – his desperation becoming too much for the production to contain – is a Fringe moment to savour.

The original score propels things along nicely and there are moments of wonderful silliness amidst the dark psychology of our faded protagonist. The problem is that the silliness, the darkness and the projections never really cohere. It feels like it’s been planned in sections – one light, one dark, one film, repeat – and while it’s technically well-executed, we never feel connected to ErictheFred or concerned for his wellbeing.

An intriguing take on life for the ageing performer, ErictheFred never goes far enough in any direction to be truly compelling, although no one is doubting Lynam’s impressive clowning skill.

Reviews by Sam Forbes

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The story of a stage-weary trouper at the end of his tether. We are invited backstage into a magical realm where his memories and dreams become real. Witness these flickering visions as the old master fights for his sanity and ultimate liberation. Original film, music and puppetry seamlessly combine with live action to create an enchanting world of slapstick, tragedy and joy. 'A wild clown in a class of his own' (Times). 'Surreal unhinged quality which makes for comic greatness' (Guardian).‘Repeatedly impressive with creative ideas brilliantly executed, including stand-out set pieces that hilariously flip expectations’ (Chortle.co.uk).