Note: This review is from the 2023 Fringe

Sigmund the Viking is a vicious, cutthroat killer destined for Valhalla when, after a dramatic encounter with a witch, discovers Eat, Pray, Love and the benefits of yoga, which he wants to share with everyone. He trades axes for wooden spoons, rage for tranquility, and a sword for a broken, rubbish sword as he takes the audience on their own yoga journey. Good luck trying to do a full-blown yoga class in your average, cramped Fringe venue, but there is certainly enough room for gags and surprises. Sigmund the Viking: ‘Valhalla Calling’ isn’t exactly laugh a minute and would do well to play more to its strengths, but it is difficult to dislike such a strange and committed lead performance. 

After a strong introduction including an intro video and the unwitting tech staff, Sigmund’s scripted segments can feel a little disjointed. Relying heavily on crowd engagement in yoga-esque activities, certain gestures, and recurring lines fail to land the desired impact if the audience listening to them isn’t game. There are several moments where the intentionally reserved mannerisms and peaceful restraint of Sigmund’s new character don’t seem to drive interest in the show. 

Where Sigmund saves it however is where he has to go off-book to respond and toy with the audience. ‘Valhalla Calling’ could well work significantly better than it already does by abandoning a script entirely, focusing purely on of-the-moment spurts of action and wit which he more than carries in his stride. Whenever Sigmund’s inner peace seems to escape him, particularly due to prop or wardrobe malfunctions, and when the audience know they can have the most fun, the show can soar and prove to be a sensationally funny experience. An open call to roast him in particular proves irresistible and, predictably, gets increasingly harsher to see if he cracks.

Sigmund himself is a committed piece of character work who, even if he fails to have you in hysterics at the very least demands appreciation for his craft. The wackiest moments are those that come to Sigmund in a flash, and if ‘Valhalla Calling’ relied more heavily on such moments then it would make for a more memorable initiation into Sigmund’s world. 

‘Valhalla Calling’ runs until Mon 28 Aug 2023 at Underbelly Bristo Square – Daisy at 20:45