Get our free email newsletter with just one click


Stain. Photo: John Cooper Tom Moriarty and Sorcha Groundsell in Stain. Photo: John Cooper
by -

In a festival packed full of premieres, Stain represents a qualified success for Glasgow-based company Tartan Spartan. Although generally associated with film production, a collaboration with Acting Coach Scotland has produced this gripping two-hander by Mark Westbrook. Teenager Amy’s visit to her old teacher Mr Reilly is in breach of a restraining order and through a series of flashbacks, we discover the lies, threats and deceit that led to this measure being enforced.

Westbrook’s slick, naturalistic written style is both exciting and engaging, albeit often reflecting a screenplay rather than a stage piece. His structure however is practically flawless, developing curt but intricately crafted scenes that constantly shift the audience’s perception of who is really to blame.

In her stage debut, screen actor Sorcha Groundsell makes an impact as Amy, swiftly shifting the balance of power with a psychotic intensity. In contrast Tom Moriarty as Mr Reilly performs with economy, which serves to question our level of trust in him too. It’s a thrilling combination of styles that works particularly well, although at times both actors might benefit from raising the volume. It’s a minor beef, but something a director more distanced from the piece than Westbrook might have noticed sooner.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Riveting drama perhaps better suited to the screen than the stage
Paul Vale
Paul has been writing for The Stage since 1998 as a critic and feature writer. He is also part of The Stage's Edinburgh Fringe review team.