New Town Theatre,
British actor Sam Underwood has proven himself rather adept at playing psychologically disturbed individuals in US TV shows from Dexter through to The Following. While he is (hopefully) not a sociopath, he is no stranger to mental health issues, and in his own show, Losing Days, he courageously tells us about living with manic depression, or bipolar disorder, sometimes bordering on psychosis.
He takes us back to his childhood in Woking in Surrey and the “problem” with Underwood men, including his father, which the family never really talks about. We see how his need to “express himself” as a performer from an early age was destined to blossom into something more complicated and scary in his 20s. We learn about his marriage to Valorie Curry – his co-star in The Following – and how she has supported him and stood by him through his darker times. And we find out how he came to play a cat in a drunken stage production of the film Hocus Pocus.
Sam insists this is no sob story, and, thanks to his endearing enthusiasm and charm, he makes this a positive story about coming to terms with his condition and how it has always been a part of who he is. The show is injected with a fantastic live musical score of the songs of British singer-songwriter Frank Turner, taken from his 2013 album Tape Deck Heart. Sam joins with Maks Kubiś on guitar to create band The Boxroom Larrys, smashing out anguished but uplifting songs that fit Sam’s story perfectly such as the up-tempo Four Simple Words, the poignant Recovery and the jaunty Losing Days.
This is a brave performance, especially as Sam admits that, in his industry, people – especially men – don’t tend to talk about their problems. It becomes clear that his mental issues have made him the man he is at 30 and helped to propel him to success in a career where he gets paid to “express” himself, most recently as a lead in hit TV series Fear the Walking Dead. By the end, he has demonstrated that, as well as acting, he has a fine singing voice, can tap dance and play keyboard and guitar – some of which, in his drive for perfection, he taught himself simply for the sake of this show.
Running to August 27, 2017
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