The production team has collaborated with homeless artists for the show's publicity.Emma Corrin

Solely as a play, Stuart: A Life Backwards is very difficult to dislike. The acting and directing are brilliantly executed and the lights are spot on. The set is adequate and snugly fits the narrative: at one point in the play, the scent of spices which Stuart is using to cook some curry onstage wafts across the room, invoking a new olfactory dimension.

In its treatment of those who would be classified as homeless, it is fair. By putting a face to the phenomenon, it helps us empathise with the situation. If you happened to watch the show on Tuesday, you would have been treated to an additional chat at the end of the play with the author (the play is adapted from a biography), Alexander Masters, and the sister of the real Stuart Shorter. The pair were on hand to give further insight into what makes a person homeless, and talked emotively about the brave individuals helping with their re-integration back into society.

What makes the story even more effective is how different the author and protagonist are on paper: Alexander Masters a physicist, pursuing his PhD at St. Edmund’s College and Stuart Shorter, a ‘chaotic’ homeless person with a criminal background. And yet, it is Stuart who helps Alexander free his friends from jail, write a book and assists him generally in striving towards self-actualisation.

"The story Alexander Masters sets out to tell you is certainly unique"Elise Limon

Strong performances and crisp dialogue grip you throughout the play. Ben Leitch deserves a mention for brilliantly portraying Stuart, grasping your attention every moment he takes the stage. The play is designed and directed such that all characters and elements of the play become a mere lens with which to view Stuart’s story. Everything from his ketchup-smeared jeans, to his lisp, gait and mannerisms (caused by muscular dystrophy) are enacted flawlessly - his energy simply pulsates through the room.

"...if the play aims, at least in part, to incite our empathy with a certain section of society, then in that, it works beautifully"

The story Alexander Masters sets out to tell you is certainly unique, but this uniqueness is also the reason that the play may not be such a good representation: a homeless person shouldn’t have to be so miraculous to be deserving of our help. But perhaps this is an unfortunate truth. If the play aims, at least in part, to arouse our empathy with a certain section of society, then in that it works beautifully.

As we leave the theatre, we feel an increased compassion to those who ask us to spare some change: and we must