10 October 2008


Vicious Fish Theatre
10 October 2008
Dancing Dog Cafe

Eric is one of those Fringe shows that was over before people began to hear about it.

With  content as diverse as reality TV pitches (Are you sexier than a fifth grader?), a speed dater who brings his own semen sample, and a Bond villain despairing that his minons dipped his echidnas in poison, Eric is sure to tickle most funny bones – while finding some unexpected new ticklish spots.

Eric is an experiment in form that started when Scott Gooding wanted to do a character comedy, but couldn’t come up with a solid idea for one character. Fortunately, he forged ahead by asking his favourite playwrights to contribute scenes, and the one person sketch show emerged.

Fortunately, he also called upon the directing talent of Scott Brennan. Best known for his work on television sketch shows, Brennan combines the tightness of TV sketch with the freedom, spontaneity and intimacy of theatre. With some clever structuring and measured pacing, he reins in Gooding’s excessive tendencies and knows when to let him loose.

Gooding’s comfortable physicality and genuine likability makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and his performance demonstrates a mightily impressive comic range. All of his characters are unique, authentic and recognisable, and at times it was easy to forget that there was only one person performing. His uncanny channelling of a blow up doll is almost haunting and no one who sees Eric will ever be able to book a brothel appointment without picturing him in a blonde wig.

With ten different playwrights (including Adam J A Cass, Robert Reid and Ben McKenzie), the comedy includes physical, joke, character, commentary, word play and a sobering dash of absurdist black. The Scotts successfully maintain and balance the different voices, without ever letting the differing styles and forms distract from the overall experience.

The Dancing Dog Café in Footscray is a terrific space for a show, but it meant that Eric missed the spontaneous ticket purchases at the Fringe hub or a better known venue. Hopefully Eric will return, because he deserves to be widely seen and welcome some adoring minions of his own.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com