76th Edinburgh Fringe: REVIEW
"It’s hard not to really fall in love with Rise & Grind; it is one of those shows that make the Fringe what it is."
Rise & Grind
A Play About Work
Written & Performed by Eric Cross
August 18, 2023
On the eve of a major work presentation, Ric is having a bit of a crisis. Everyone from his boss to his friends, family, and girlfriend are vying for his attention, but his only focus has been on his presentation, something that could change his life. But as disaster strikes, Ric is forced to ask himself if this really is what he needs and if this is the direction he wants to take.
Rise & Grind by Eric Cross is a musical comedy with a fair sprinkle of drama that pretty succinctly offers an insight into the modern struggle we all face to create a fair work-life balance. Cross’s opening song really gets to the heart of what he’s saying with this piece, and it’s in equal parts angry and frustrated. It is here that we meet Ric for the first time and understand the dilemma he’s in. Cross is incredibly engaging as a performer, and even with some of the more slapstick satire he creates with his multitude of characters, you can see the heart and seriousness that underpin the piece.
Millions of people are in jobs that offer them no life. These jobs and bosses take away from you and believe that because they give you a pay check, they’re able to expect the impossible from you, and you better deliver. Ric is on the periphery of something that is life-changing, but in our hearts, we can see that this is never going to be as big a change as Rick is thinking. If he makes a success of this presentation, he’s only going to be expected to deliver even more.
As annoying as the phone calls from his family, friends, and girlfriend might be, what they do offer us is a sad insight into the life he’s missing as he chases the life he believes he needs. How much more can he give up, or should he give up, to get to a place that he thinks will provide him with a level of freedom that will allow him to enjoy his life?
"There is something so rewarding and special about seeing a show from a performer who can’t hide their passion and joy at being at the Fringe doing something they really love doing."
It’s hard not to really fall in love with Rise & Grind; it is one of those shows that make the Fringe what it is. Every year, thousands of shows take place, and hundreds of performers make their way to Edinburgh from all over the world, unsure how or if their shows will sell or if they’ll even get an audience. At the end of his show, Eric said that not only is this his debut Fringe show, but this is also the premiere of a musical he’s been wanting to write for a long time.
In the opening song, Good, Ric’s friend Edward uses the term gaslight, which really made me laugh for some reason. It is the way Edward says, ‘Don’t gaslight me, Ric', that allows you to really see how fully rounded the musical Eric’s characters are. Throughout the musical, there are wonderful touches like this—strange turn-of-phrases from mom and dad, his sister in Australia with a faux accent, and the needs of his girlfriend—that add additional substance to the work. And maintaining the absurdity is the country and western-inspired number Dead and Down. Let’s just say the song takes a darker turn than you could imagine.
Rise & Grind is a fun comedy musical that is performed with real gusto by Eric Cross. There is something so rewarding and special about seeing a show from a performer who can’t hide their passion and joy at being at the Fringe doing something they really love doing. Eric really does inspire you, and his show will leave you smiling ear to ear for a long time after.