Lucy Phelps as Lynette
Lucy Phelps as Lynette
© Dan Cashdan

Can't Stand Up For Falling Down tells the story of three women who, although initially unaware of each other, are thrown together by their various relationships with the same man and the devastating effect he has on their lives, both as individuals and as a collective.

Unfortunately, the unseen man at the heart of this story, who brings so much misery to these women, is something of a two-dimensional Northern stereotype. Hard drinking, taciturn, cruel, aggressive and violent. Of course, there is no doubt such men have always existed, but it would've been nice to go beyond the archetypal and given the character some shading.

This is the main problem with the production as a whole; it never really shows us anything we haven't seen before. As well written as the piece is, it rarely illuminates; as powerfully acted as the three main characters are, their stories feel all too familiar.

The subject matter is unremittingly bleak and the tone is suitably intense, a sense heightened by the confines of the York Theatre Royal's Studio and the actors' proximity to the audience.

There is no doubt all three women are completely committed to their roles and Richard Cameron's script has moments of elevation when he captures the sense of claustrophobia and malevolent boredom pervading this rural Northern town in the 1970s, but ultimately there is a nagging feeling that he is playing it just a little too safe.

Can't Stand Up For Falling Down continues at the York Theatre Royal until 16 November. For further information visit www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk