The State vs John Hayes is a one-woman performance set on Texas’ death row.

As you can expect from the subject matter, it was unflinchingly dark and consciously unsettling, but there are glimmers of humour too, which makes for a mesmerizing hour.

Exploring themes of punishment, mental disorders, inherited traits and sexuality, this production isn’t afraid of tackling the big issues.

Lucy Roslyn, the sole performer who also wrote the play, is utterly brilliant – she gives an exceptional performance as Elyese Dukie, the condemned prisoner battling with her past, her mental stability and her inner demons.

Well-researched and well-written, the play borrows from real life to create another world that lingers in one’s mind long after the curtains fall.

The stark set and thoughtful lighting provides a backdrop for Roslyn’s character, but this is really all about her: flitting between personalities and genders, Roslyn commands the audience’s attention with immense skill.

Leaving the audience with more questions than answers, this play is gripping. In creating a character as flawed and intense as Elyese Dukie, Roslyn has succeeded in creating one that’s inherently human and believable.

Though the story could have been shortened a bit without losing its impact, this has to be one of the best shows at this years’ Fringe.

Five stars