Looking every bit the part of a life-long sailor down to the white knitted turtleneck, Eric spends the full hour regaling his audience with tales gleaned from the sea. A story about camaraderie and friendship and perilous, white-knuckle experiences in equal measure, this real-life submariner proceeds to ruthlessly grip our attention for the entire performance, offering frequent laughs as much-needed respite.
Eric starts at the very beginning, first introducing us to his newly-enlisted, sixteen year old self on his way to commence basic training with the British Navy. Aided by his trusty slide-show, Eric expertly explains and illustrates the technicalities of machinery, training and procedure that surround the life of a real life submariner.
This award-winning storyteller presents a surprisingly moving Fringe offering, deceptively nestled in the 'comedy' category of the guide. And while there are moments of endearing hilarity, this incidental comic is armed with powerful anecdotal missiles, a slide-show clicker and impeccable timing that engages your heart ventricles to a point of discomfort. Believe me, you will find yourself sweating in anticipation of what is to happen next. Will he make it out of the training tank where a mate had perished two years prior? Will his best friend on his death-bed see another day?
As it turns out, life on a British nuclear submarine is full of adventure, and Eric's incredible tales make you question your life choices after leaving the show. Like, why did I choose a career in HR instead of becoming a sailor?
This wonderfully moving performance could've perhaps been enhanced by a few slight changes. In acknowledgement of a last minute shift in venue, I would further suggest placing Eric in the back corner of a little pub, limiting the seating capacity to around fifteen patrons and having them sit around a live fireplace, with the projected slide-show screening above it. With Eric standing beside a fireplace, a glass of Glenfiddich in hand, welcoming us like new-old friends who just happened to stumble in.
Overall, Eric's Tales of the Sea is an expertly told and very moving Fringe offering unlike anything you have experienced before. A fusion between a long lost uncle dropping in unexpectedly for a yarn, to an educational speaker hired by your high-school to instil in you a sense of responsibility in your reckless teenage self. One thing is for sure, Eric knows how to tell a story.