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Winkie's real name is Gavin, and although he's 40, he needs the kind of attention that a toddler does.

In their modest flat, his mother has given him a lifetime of patience, self-denial and love.

When she dies, his welfare is transferred to his sister, whose affection for him was never strong, and her heartless boyfriend. Soon, selfless care is replaced by neglect and abuse.

Author Nigel Ensor, who also directs, has an interest in social-problem drama. The script would benefit from some trimming, but has the tremendous strength of showing realistically and grimly the sheer frustrating, infuriating, relentless messiness of looking after someone completely incapable of looking after himself.

Thursday night's performance began a little shakily, but gathered confidence as it went along.

Chris Summers, as Winkie, is undoubtedly the star of the show. His character's movement, speech and fixations are well developed and portrayed, and he shows us Winkie's lovable characteristics as well as his maddening ones. He is ably supported by Yvonne Jessop as his mother, Stefany Frost as Annette, the sister whose indifference begins to turn into real concern, Emmett Hardie as Wilson, her callous, scheming fiance, and Millie Lovelock as solicitor Sharon.

Winkie has much to say about the lives of dependent adults and those who do the caring, and about a society that consistently puts its least able members into the too-hard basket. Its social realism is relieved by moments of bleak humour.

Thursday night's audience was small - about 20 people - but very appreciative.

- Written by Barbara Frame.

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