There’s Stanley the man and Stanley the play. The latter is a monologue by Conor Clarke McGrath and can be seen at the theSpace on Northbridge. The former is the character he plays, who would hate absolutely everything about The Festival Fringe because he doesn’t like dealing with people and goes out very reluctantly and then only to shop.

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.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Lock the door, turn up the radio, ignore the voice in your head. Stanley loves The Archers, and hates leaving the house. This solo show explores one man’s struggle to find his place in a world that’s rapidly changing around him. Before it’s too late. Before he gets left behind. Why not pop the kettle on? 'A reality-bending play about a mind fragmenting in front of our eyes. Clarke McGrath throws Bennett against Beckett and emerges with a powerful and distinctive new voice' (Ryan Craig, Playwright, National Theatre).

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