FEAR The Walking Dead star Sam Underwood is back at the Fringe for the first time in two years, and while the actor, now based in New York, describes it as coming “full circle”, a lot has happened in the intervening 24 months.
Sam stars in his self-penned one-man play Losing Days, at the New Town Theatre. In the piece he opens up about the stigma surrounding mental illness in a bittersweet autobiographical story of losing your mind, and then finding it again.
Set to the backdrop of songs from Frank Turner’s album Tape Deck Heart, Losing Days is a mixture of the hilarious and the harrowing.
“Being back at the Fringe really is full coming circle,” he says. “My journey discovering my mental health issues started at the Fringe in 2015. Bryony Kimmings’ Fake It Till You Make It sucker-punched me in the gut.
“It was after that performance that I started (just started) waking up to the fact that I have a problem that needed to be addressed.”
While Sam is glad to be back, it nearly didn’t happen due to the scheduling of re-shoots for Fear The Walking Dead, in which he plays Jake Otto.
“That was fun. Shooting schedules are always unpredictable, and I’m thrilled it worked out. I can’t go into detail about the specifics - but I’m here.
“Ironically, this isn’t the first time a Fringe show of mine has been affected by shoot schedules. In 2011 we were meant to have Kate Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway, Star Trek Voyager) in our show, but she ended up having to depart for the same reasons - the day before we flew to Edinburgh.”
Sam who regularly pops up in hit series such as Dexter, Homeland and The Following may be a familiar face on TV but admits he loves the thrill of live theatre.
“It is more immediate and there’s a direct connection between you and your audience, and you are all taking this journey together.
“On camera work is more intimate. The camera is your audience, it’s right in your face, and does not need as much projection.”
And there are other differences between the disciplines, he adds, “There’s no trailer, no hair and make-up, no free food. And no wardrobe department... “Actually, if you’re nice to the wardrobe people, one of those additional copies of that really nice denim jacket from Fear The Walking Dead may end up in your suitcase... or even featured in a show at the Fringe.”
Look out for it.
Losing Days, New Town Theatre, George Street, 4-27 August, £10, 0131-226 0000