A woman battles with the precarity and powerlessness of her life in Matt Wilkinson’s solo play, Psychodrama. Played with calm, brittle poise by Emily Bruni, she tells her everyday story of sexism, ageism, manipulation and abuse of authority where reality eventually starts to fracture and blur.

In her 40s, the narrator is an actor still trying to carve out a career while getting by in a minimum-wage job in a fashion store. She feels success is at hand when she finds herself up for the role of Marion Crane – the ill-fated motel guest played by Janet Leigh in classic horror film Psycho – and begins work with a famous Dutch director, Peter Coevorden, who wants to adapt it for the stage. Charming and inspiring, he exploits her hunger for the job, pushing her to the extremes of her mental endurance.

Clearly drawing on Alfred Hitchcock’s problematic treatment of actresses like Janet Leigh, Psychodrama touches on the MeToo movement and the ever-growing list of film, TV and theatre directors who have exploited actresses as well as actors. It reveals behind-the-scenes details about the creative process but also provides a broader depiction of the abuses of uneven power relationships and the effect on those at risk of being damaged by them.

Directed by Wilkinson, Psychodrama is driven by Bruni’s mesmerising performance, with her character’s increasingly cloudy mental state reflected in Elliot Griggs’ shifting lighting design. The brutal ending is in the beginning but the show takes us on a psychological rollercoaster of dashed hopes, disappointment and despair to its inevitable, if potentially ambiguous, conclusion.

Psychodrama runs at the Traverse Theatre for Edinburgh Fringe until 28 August 2022. Tickets at traverse.co.uk.