Can a man mature at the expense of a woman’s sexual trauma? PlayOn Theatre’s Stacy gets under the skin of an emotionally unavailable young man as he tries to cope with a life-changing one-night stand with his best friend. Once there, though, this lyric monologue loses itself in the protagonist’s near-autistic world view, resulting in a narrative as inarticulate and detached as the man it purports to examine.
Rob, an English working class teenager, recalls the fateful escapade with childhood friend Stacy, offering piecemeal insights into his troubled baggage by means of jarringly juxtaposed anecdotes from his life: a sister’s unmourned death, a schoolyard skirmish over his good looks, a graphic account of the botched disposal of a ran-over stray dog. While the exposition is craftily paced, the pieces of the puzzle are largely inconsequential, contributing as it were to a sparse account of arrested development rendered undramatic and lukewarm by cardboard supporting characters.
Nic McQuillan boasts considerable range, but only once the material allows him luxuries like silences and changing emotional states, nearly halfway through the monologue. Rather than complementing the stream-of-consciousness narrative thread, a slide projection of background images only adds to the play’s inconsistency, alternating headshots of Rob’s acquaintances (which linger long after the text has moved on from their subjects) and exaggerated visual gags in various degrees of sexual explicitness.
Written by Jack Thorne (Skins, This Is England ’88), Stacy approaches a sensitive and surprisingly underexplored facet of sexual relations: the grey area between quiet submission and youthful inexperience that blurs both premeditation and consent. But it does so from a facile distance, cowardly and vacuous. Fragmented narratives can be a sharp dramatic tool. Stacy’s, though, is wielded too lightly and randomly to leave any lasting impressions.
Stacy. Directed by Nik Partridge and Georgina Ower. Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London. 24-29 January, 19:45. £8.