Review of ERIC by Christine Pyman

Reviewer: Christine Pyman
First published in: Broadway World
Date of review: 20 October 2018


by Christine Pyman, 6th October 2018.

For those unused to the Discworld creations of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, be prepared for mayhem and madness, melded together by a brilliantly observational intellectual mind. Pamela Munt has worked hard with Sir Terry’s vision, by adapting, producing, and directing his written novel into to a two-hour play for her Unseen Theatre Company.

In this story, we are introduced to Eric, a very typical almost fourteen-year-old boy, one of the Billy Bunter types, who just happens to be an exceptional demonologist. His talents gain him the attention of the demon king of Hades, Astfgl, played in a funnily and frighteningly bureaucratic fashion by Paul Messenger. Astfgl has a cohort of demons at his apparent beck and call, very ably realised by Danny Sag, Aimee Ford, and Harold Roberts. The machinations of the demon host are witty and well played, in every sense.

Unfortunately for the demons, the Discworld’s most incompetent but teeteringly borderline, terminally lucky wizard, Rincewind, (wizzard, in his own spelling), is conjured in a summoning, by accident, by Eric. Sam Tutty plays Eric, our would-be schoolboy Ruler of the World, in an appropriately petulant manner, demanding his wishes from the unprepossessing Rincewind, Chris Irving. These two actors are on stage for almost every scene, forming a continuation of narrative, through an ongoing series of vignettes. The sheer number of set changes led to a lowness of production initially, with improved pace for the second act. The use of pre-recorded video projections shows the attention to detail, and the passion for these productions, that Unseen brings to their shows.

A series of adventures allow the cast to showcase their multiple personalities, with a standout favourite being Hugh O’Connor, as Lavaelos, the laconic Captain of the Ephebians. O’Connor’s projection of voice and body language were excellent throughout. Alycia Rabig also brought humour to the stage with her down to earth Creator, acting as a still point for the orbiting Eric & Rincewind, in a dance-like nothingness of creation.

The idea of Hell being a group of bureaucrats brings relatable terror into our modern age, and the use of Mick Jagger‘s fallen angel voice singing both Sympathy For The Devil, and You Can’t Always Get What You Want, shows a touch of demonic genius.

Any theatre company that can recreate one of Pratchett’s most loved characters, the Luggage, in all of its magical wooden aggression (cabinet constructed by Andrew Zeuner and David Dyte), has my vote of confidence. If this tale is all sounding a little familiar, you are probably remembering Faust, a parable of what happens when you get what you wish for, but with an emphasis on the mistakes of basing your life goals on the classics. Throw in an answer to how life starts, reference Hell in our everyday lives, wrap the entire thing in humour, and you have a story worth experiencing. Unseen Theatre has a history of attempting the almost impossible, with the utmost sense of fun, and this production continues to delight Pratchett fans.