Edinburgh 2013: Stuart: A Life Backwards - Fraser Ayres gives an electrifying central performance
There is a stunning performance at the heart of this theatrical adaptation of Alexander Masters' award-winning biography. Fraser Ayres plays Stuart Shorter, a chaotic, garrulous homeless man who has spent his life fighting - abuse, muscular dystrophy, drug addiction, poverty.
When he signs up to join the fight to free two imprisoned homeless charity workers, he meets Alexander, an liberal PhD dropout, played by Will Adamsdale doing what he does best (tousle-haired, middle-class diffidence). As the pair strike up a rapport - it's not quite a friendship - Alexander decides to write Stuart's life, to find out, as his subject poignantly puts it: "What murdered the boy I was?".
This is a classy show, co-produced by High Tide, which will rightly tour (to Watford and Sheffield) after the Fringe. Jack Thorne's script splits the story into three - the meeting, the writing and the postscript but it is only when it hones in on the intricacies of capturing a life that the play really gets going.
Before that - Ayres' wired, electrifying presence aside - it is rather underpowered with some unnecessary supporting roles distracting from the compelling central twosome. By the end, as it reaches for a devastating answer to Stuart's question, it builds to an emotional pitch that is hard to resist. "I've always thought I'm rather interesting, to be honest," declares Stuart. Tearfully the audience must agree.
To 26 August (0844 545 8252)
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'