Theatre review: Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late, Sweet Grassmarket – Grassmarket 3, Edinburgh

Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late, Sweet Grassmarket Grassmarket 3 '(Venue 18)
Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late, Sweet Grassmarket Grassmarket 3 '(Venue 18)
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Has the show started? Is everyone here? When’s the door going to be shut? These are the questions asked by a frantic man on stage who may or may not be in character.

Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late, Sweet Grassmarket – Grassmarket 3 * * * *

Written and performed by Paul Richards, it follows the journey of an idiosyncratic 38-year-old man, Harvey Greenfield, as he becomes overwhelmed by other people’s demands on his time. It is, we are told, based on a true story – apart from one bit.

Like an alternative Ferris Bueller, rather than having a day off, Harvey is simply trying to get to work for a meeting, but keeps getting phone calls from his mum, girlfriend, the guy at the garage, the lawyer of a cyclist taking him to court, someone saying something about a funeral...

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A self-described “strangely ugly Hugh Grant type”, his naivety and inability to cope in the modern world is simultaneously charming and horrifying. He gives money to every weird charity that asks, gets into the kind of scrapes Just William would be proud of, and has a relationship with a competent and beautiful girlfriend that shouldn’t work, but somehow does.

The escalating web of chaos is skilfully scripted in the vein of a classic film comedy, while detours into Harvey’s childhood chart his development from a painfully nervous teenager to someone who is almost able to function.

This is a transformation of Hollywood proportions but, as the pressure builds and Harvey’s mind starts to melt, the piece highlights the more serious consequences of taking on too much to a point where it impacts on your mental health. “Which bit’s not true?” an audience member asks after the show’s finished, as two others wipe away tears. “The ending, obviously,” says Paul, or Harvey – which presumably means everything else is, and it’s sadly all too recognisable.

SALLY STOTT

Until 24 August

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