Theatre review: Stanley, theSpace on North Bridge, Edinburgh

There are touches of Beckett and of Alan Bennett’s diaries to this very self-contained but perfectly executed piece by writer and performer Conor Clarke McGrath.

Stanley, theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36)

Stanley, theSpace on North Bridge, Edinburgh * * * *

He plays Stanley, a bespectacled, tanktop-wearing young man of the 1950s who prefers not to leave the house, although he does love the Archers. The radio show is one of his only constant companions as the piece progresses through what appears to the audience to be a day, as he gets into his pyjamas midway through, but what the snippets of news which break through from the world outside tells us has actually been decades.

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McGrath’s performance is understated but effective, perfectly illustrating Stanley's paranoia and fear of the outside world as he slams on the wall to disrupt the imagined noises from next door, and eventually pictures the conflagration he perceives the outside world to be incinerating even the cosy world of the Archers. The style of the play – and of the man at its centre – is deliberately, decidedly old-fashioned, and yet in the well-weighted delivery of it, a sense of cloying paranoia and fear that the worst the world may hold is typical of what it has to offer emerges from Stanley's psychosis. For our insular, shut-in online lives, it's a perfectly disturbing allegory.

Until 24 August

David Pollock