Sometimes you sit through a tedious play thinking ‘I’m losing the will to live’ – but in My Brother’s Keeper you have a refreshing converse: a well-written play about the will to live.

In what I’m pretty sure will be an award-winning performance former stand-up Andy de la Tour as Mr Stone, former Shakespearean actor and stroke victim, lies halfway between torpor and irascibility in an NHS overspill ward designed with hideous authenticity by Maddie Whiffin.

Kathryn Pogson’s patiently dull wife is eclipsed by the rival attentions of Stone’s two sons – a splendidly caustic and fluent Josh Taylor who shares a love of words with his father, and a more conventional buttoned-up business type played by David Partridge.

It almost doesn’t matter that there’s little plot development, because the characters are so realistic, and so well acted you’re almost tempted to join in their conversations. In fact, if you didn’t want to take Taylor’s character out for a beer there’s something wrong with you.

Even if their philosophising is a bit glib – just what is a ‘coffee table Marxist’? – novelist Nigel Williams, author of the tremendous The Wimbledon Poisoner, writes perfectly for the stage.

Although first performed in 1985, the dialogue is entirely fresh, and the sideswipes at the health service, and at families who are unable to speak to each other, are completely modern.

But the discussion about whether dad should have ‘the will to live’ engages you throughout and will keep you talking in the rather congenial bar afterwards.

Although a bit off the usual ‘off West End’ patch, the Playground Theatre is a welcome addition to the West London theatre scene.

until 23 March