Off Kilter is 'a timely, deeply heartfelt gem' (3 stars)

Off Kilter is a magical show hampered by a jarring score

credit: Naill Walker

A flawed but lovely study in magical realism

Ramesh Meyyappan's sweet, open face has never been put to better use than in this thoughtful one-man production tackling mental health issues. His hapless character Joe Kilter has insomnia, and with just cause. When he receives a letter containing bad news, his mind starts to play tricks on him – and he in turn, turns the tricks onto the audience. The sleight of hand he produces is excellent, and this is a jaw-dropping display of both pure physical comedy and magic, which roots his plight in both the silent movies of Buster Keaton and the deadpan seventies sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

In his skilful hands pencils, alarm clocks and even cookies become instruments of surrealist wonder, disappearing and reappearing at will, or even expanding. Yet as often as he mines these props for laughs, they contain a double meaning. Implicit in his repetitive movements are a kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so when he becomes aware of the envelope's contents (and the audience, who open it at the same time) the things that shape his world become dead objects to him.

There is no faulting Meyyappan's performance, with devastating moments of beauty, humour and pathos, flawlessly directed by Andy Arnold. This is further enhanced by Jessica Kennedy's graceful choreography. But Joel Nah's score, so effective at first, becomes something of a jarring distraction, hampering a show which relies on the subtlety of his craft. No matter – for the most part, this is a timely, deeply heartfelt gem.

Tron Theatre, Glasgow May 10–13.

Off Kilter

A highly physical theatre production which explores mental well-being and difference. Joe Kilter is a routine obsessed man whose life is thrown off balance when something changes, leaving him isolated and desperate.