Losing Days Review

Losing Days
Rating: 5/5
Venue: New Town Theatre (Edinburgh)
Worth seeing? YES

Sam Underwood (Fear The Walking Dead, The Following) is mostly manic, and definitely depressed! Losing Days follows his hilarious and harrowing journey of losing his f*cking mind – and finding it again – set to the tunes that got him through. Featuring live music from Frank Turner’s Tape Deck Heart album, and the debut performance of The Boxroom Larrys. A true story seen through a shattered kaleidoscope, delving into the superhero struggle of mental illness, and smashing the taboos that surround it. Co-created by Valorie Curry (The Tick, The Following). This is not a sob story!

I'm going to be honest, me and my husband had been wanting to go to Edinburgh for a while but the moment I decided I was definitely going this year was when I saw that Sam Underwood (he's my favourite actor, for anyone that doesn't know) was doing a production about mental health, something many of you know is very close to my heart. Pre-visit, I interviewed Sam about the show (interview here) and I was certain I would love it. I didn't quite realise how much...

It was my first Ed Fringe this year; with Edinburgh being a seven hour drive from me, it took quite a bit of organising but I knew Losing Days had to be the show to take my Ed Fringe virginity. Apart from knowing there was music and it was about mental health, I didn't know too much about the show and I wasn't sure what the set up would be like as obviously, I'd never been to a venue in Edinburgh before.

The show started at 9:40pm and when we walked into the production room, I was completely mesmerised. I've only ever been to venues in London where there's several hundred people and it's all a bit chaotic. I was the first person in there and there were around 50 seats. Sam was already sitting in a chair opposite me and I was truly astounded how intimate it was. There was something so much more personal about this layout and it was one of my favourite things about the show, mainly because of how much it enhanced the honesty of what he was saying.

Before I get into the review, I'll tell you a bit about the show, mainly so the review makes sense. This is Sam's story of how he discovered that he had manic depression (bipolar), how it affects his life, work ethic, relationships and predominantly, how he's learning to deal with it. It's a two-man show, consisting of Sam and Maks (I think we all left feeling a little bit in love with Maks). Sam narrates his journey through manic depression, where it all began and where he's at now, all intertwined with the music of Frank Turner. I will confess, I'd not heard a Frank Turner song before this show and I fell in love with the music instantly. The show was so cleverly written, that it almost felt like Sam could have written these songs about various points in his life.

Sam, you did say it wasn't a sob story...but I will also confess, I had tears in my eyes throughout. I think the tears were there because the show was so powerful, thought-provoking and honest, rather than because I was sad. It's almost scary for someone to be that honest to you about their life, because as you can imagine, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but it was real and relatable.

I have struggled with mental health for several years now and one of Sam's struggles in his story was finding medication that worked. As any of you on medication for mental health will know, it's extremely difficult, to not only diagnose the problem, but to find medication that works. This is a part that really hit home for me because a lot of the time, it's trial and error and it usually gets worse before it gets better...and this was definitely the case for Sam.

I want to keep this a spoiler free review but there is a part in the show where Sam loses his cool and shows us the heightened emotions that come with manic depression, which leave you looking back at how you behaved and not recognising what you've become, and this part left me in pieces. It was here that I realised what an incredible actor Sam is (not that I didn't already know this). I've seen many shows but nothing quite left it's mark on me like that moment did.

The music. Let's talk about the music. I didn't realise what an amazing singer Sam was before this show but my god, he can sing and as I said earlier, it almost felt like Sam could have written these songs himself. The music was from the album Tape Deck Heart by Frank Turner. What I loved about the music is that it added to any emotion you were already feeling from the show. When Sam was happy, the songs reflected that...I was even on my feet dancing at one point! Anger, sadness, regret, all the songs were perfectly chosen to reflect those moods.

I am quite the ice queen, it's difficult to make me laugh. (Example: We went to a comedy show in Edinburgh, everyone was crying with laughter...I just about managed a smile!) This had me in absolute hysterics. I think it's important with issues like mental health that you are able to keep the balance of seriousness and light-heartedness, which seems like an impossible feat for an issue so important, but something Sam was able to achieve perfectly.

The show was extremely thought-provoking and I left with a very important message: It's okay to have a mental health problem, it feels all consuming and the most important thing you can do to help yourself is talk. Whether to a doctor, a therapist, a partner: just talk.

I left the show with a huge love of Valorie Curry (Sam's wife). She is truly a real-life superhero and I have so much respect for her.

I also left feeling empowered and incredibly lucky to have seen the show; it was definitely worth the 7 hour journey to Edinburgh for...I'm actually thinking of trying to see it again! It was the highlight of my Ed Fringe experience and I don't think I could have enjoyed it more.

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