There’s Stanley the man and
A moving insight into those and the issues confronting people like Stanley.
It could be the scenario for a great comedy, but instead it is the background to a delightfully sensitive portrayal of a lonely man suffering the profound effects of social isolation, paranoia and undiagnosed mental illness. If that sounds a little heavy, don’t be put off.
Stanley lives in an old run-down flat. The items that surround him are anything but elegant. The phone is a twentieth century intrusion he hates, because it’s a means by which people can access him. The kettle dates from the same period, but the ironing board looks a little more recent; he probably wore out the other one, given his inclination towards obsessively pressing his clothes. Then there is the brown wooden-cased wireless, which predates everything, but in which he finds some joy. He delights in music, of the limited genre that appeals to him, but most importantly it is the source of The Archers of which he is an avid follower.
He returns to the storyline of the radio series at various interludes and indeed it appears to be the focus of his life. That saga, along with reflections and various incidents are endearingly and sensitively told by McGrath. He knows how to use silence and mime to effect, but also understands the draw of quietly spoken words, and meticulously stylised annunciation, a skill that many other performers could usefully learn.
Stanley says, “I’ve got a lot of things going on in my head”. McGrath gives us access to those in a moving insight into those and the issues confronting people like Stanley.