Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother

An uncategorisable but definitely troubling show which will be different every night

Critics and audiences have been unsure what to make of Lewis Schaffer's new show. But what chance do they have when the man himself is scratching his head. 'It's not exactly comedy' he repeats as we troop in, leaving us wondering just what on earth we've let ourselves in for. Unopened Letters From My Mother is arguably one of the most self-explanatory titles in this year's Fringe programme: for one hour each day, Schaffer discovers the contents of an unopened letter from his mother, and attempts to riff (or at least not get upset) on the details within.

He dismisses his conceit as neither therapy nor performance art (as has been suggested previously in the run), but he would like it to be considered for a comedy award, thanks very much. Trouble is, even the most innovative and off-kilter shows to have been nominated for the big prizes in Edinburgh were funny at their core.

There are few laughs to be had on the night of this review, as a newspaper clipping of a knife advert spills out of the envelope alongside a cryptic message from Mrs S (in a brief Q&A session launched when it becomes clear Schaffer can't really carry on with the chit-chat, one audience member posits that there could be subconscious violent fantasies at play). The point of all this remains rather unclear, but you have to admire the gall of the man. Unopened Letters From My Mother could be brave, brilliant or baffling. Chances are it's all three.

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, until 27 Aug (not 19, 26), 8.30pm, free.

Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters from My Mother

  • 3 stars

Lewis Schaffer Each day the London-based New York comic will read an unopened letter from his mother, sent before she died alone in New York. 'Stands at the edge of metaphorical precipice' (R Stamp, FringeGuru.com). ★★★★★ (Scotsman). 'Compelling, unique and most of all unpredictable' (Bruce Dessau, London Evening…