Jelly Beans (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

Jelly Beans

Deep-fried psychosis served up in blistering monologue

Writer and director Dan Pick's monologue, brilliantly performed by Adam Harley, traces a hallucinatory journey in the life of an unnamed man from Port Glasgow, from his obsession with niche webcam pornography to a bloody finale. It's uncompromising and brutal, with barely a pause for breath in its machine gun rhythm. When the man's relationship with his girlfriend Jess breaks down, he rampages through the town to exact vengeance, and truth and reality blur.

There is an unflinching focus on bodies and bodily fluids here, in all their un-Photoshopped glory – on bone, teeth, sweat, semen and blood. It's not for the squeamish, nor the easily offended. The depiction of a man in a wheelchair, named The Thumb, is ugly indeed, as well as the unsparing misogyny. But the young man at the centre of the story, initially so articulate and sweet, is revealed through flashbacks to have psychopathic tendencies which are only exacerbated by casual sex, drink and cocaine.

It is a little predictable in the execution, but there is some excellent writing, and Harley's performance is impossible to ignore. Ultimately, by presenting the man's interior monologue, Jelly Beans raises wider questions of the care of excluded vulnerable people and the root causes of mental breakdowns, without ever casting judgement.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug (not 13, 20), 3.15pm, £8–£10 (£7–£9).

Jelly Beans

  • 3 stars

Kuleshov Imagine if Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag was a guy – a violently tender-hearted, radically alienated, sweetheart psychopath of a guy… Jelly Beans tells first-hand the story of a momentous day in the life of a young Port Glasgow man teetering on the brink of self-destruction. As his drab existence is shattered by…