Review: Stacy, New Diorama

“I’m the sort of guy that falls in love easily”

Stacy is actually about Rob. And his best friend Stacy, and her flatmate Shona too. But mainly about Rob. For when a misguided drunken shag with Stacy later leads into another encounter with the more inexperienced Shona, it is Rob’s life that is thrown under the microscope in this hour-long monologue by Jack Thorne, as he delivers a stream of consciousness of epic proportions, full of amusing family anecdotes and wheedling self-justification, his unique world-view and several trips into a past which emerges as disturbingly warped.

Thorne’s writing literally zings with authenticity, packed full intensely familiar details – the evils of cheap blue plastic bags, the messiness that so often characterises ill-advised hook-ups, the appeal of trashy TV – to make this character a compellingly vivid and realistic depiction of disillusioned 21st century young adulthood. And Tim Dorsett really gets under the skin of Rob, a charmingly winsome presence who revels in the role of raconteur –playing beautifully off of our responses to some of the more ribald details – with a genuine warmth coming through his comedic persona too. Which makes it all the more powerful when the warning notes of uncertainty start to sound and then the siren blares at full volume.

Suddenly armed with new knowledge, the audience is thrust into a world which is now much more morally complex. Thorne’s writing continues in much the same vein but is it still OK to laugh? Are we still allowed to find any empathy with this man? As with the proliferation of jokes about Jimmy Savile, there’s a great uneasiness in the air as shocked silence meets stifled sniggers. In a clever move, a projector accompanies Rob onstage and constantly flicks through images which – sometimes unwittingly and sometimes horrendously graphically – reveal something of his troubled sub-conscious.  

From its sexually frank but wryly comic beginnings, Stacy builds into a blistering intensity. By presenting and maintaining such a recognisable normality both through Thorne’s writing and through Dorsett’s performance, there’s a bleak reminder that the shades of grey exist in us all. The ambiguity that accompanies the bad decisions may frustrate some, but ultimately has a deadening beliveability.

Alongside Stacy, the AllthePigs theatre company are taking the opportunity to showcase work from their First-time-writers’ initiative, as each performance of the show is preceded by a short play from a writer who is new to writing for the stage. Tonight saw Cordelia O’Neill’s The Stolen Inches receiving its first airing, its depiction of a highly troubled family dynamic proving an effective pre-echo to the main show. If it tries to achieve a little too much in its short running time with its dipping into the past as well as presenting five narrative streams – mother and father who talk both together and separately plus their two sons – O’Neill probes an interesting premise of the impact of a surprise child on all members of a family and the repercussions of their attitudes across their lifetimes.

Mother’s endless non-sequiturs are brilliantly delivered with an oblivious wonderment by Elaine Harris and Tom Hurley’s unexpected son neatly suggests the psychological damage from a life spent in the shadow of his older brother Seb. And the writing shows promise, especially if O’Neill gives her play a little more room to breathe – the relationship between the brothers is tantalisingly drawn and feels rich for further exploration, and allowing a little more space for the double whammy of final revelations would avoid the ending feeling a tad hurried.

Running time: Stacy – 65 minutes, but with the opening short play, about 2 hours with interval all-in  
Booking until 20th October

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