LOOK up "Erin Fleming" on Wikipedia and you learn she was "a Canadian actress best known as the companion of Groucho Marx in his final years".

Groucho died in August 1977; she shot herself on April 15 2003, aged 61, her mental health having deteriorated to the point of spending much of her last decade in and out of psychiatric facilities.

She had had to live with the slings and arrows of assorted books on Groucho recounting her "controversial relationship" with the Marx Brother as his young assistant in his autumn years, not only biographical accounts but also Sidney Sheldon's fusion of fact and fiction, A Stranger In The Mirror.

On the one hand, Erin arranged personal appearances and one-man shows for Groucho, most famously at Carnegie Hall in 1973, in a late-career renaissance in his 80s; on the other, did she push a frail Groucho too far for her own gain?

Questions, so many questions, and no clear answers in Groucho enthusiast Mike Hickman's new play for York company Off The Rock Productions. Not So Funny Now appears to be taking place inside Erin's head, not the most reliable of places and one that plays tricks on her too, always one step beyond her control.

That does not make for the most coherent night's theatre as you try to make sense of what's going on, but certainly the turmoil of mental illness is writ large. Victoria Delaney's troubled, tormented Erin wants to set the record straight, surrounded by all those scandalous books and press clippings on the dresser, the books marked up with bookmarks and notes at key points that irk her, but everything seems to be against her.

First, there are the Tricksters (Max Palmer and Sonia Di Lorenzo), in black modern dress with toy truncheons, trying to force entry into the room. Sometimes that room is her own cluttered abode, a prison of memories into which she withdraws; other times it is Groucho's dressing room. Wherever, the Tricksters are on hand to play out assorted roles, both turning into gag-cracking Groucho at various points, while enacting events at Erin's request, but not to her satisfaction.

But then there is also another woman present in a bygone dress, face and arms painted grey, teeth and eyes turned almost yolk yellow. She is the ghostly Ruth Johnson (Clancy McMullan), Groucho's "forgotten" first wife, another unreliable witness according to Erin, despite her protestations that she wants to help. At one point too, she is the stranger in the mirror, as Erin mirrors her movements.

A psychological drama, a puzzle, playing mind games with the audience, Not So Funny Now is not seeking a final truth, a resolution, Hickman acknowledging that "black and white is hard to find in this tale". Instead it occupies murky grey areas, but all the while seeks to understand the consequences of having to live under the burden of blame, shame and the barbs of Groucho himself.

Not So Funny Now, Off The Rock Productions, The Basement, City Screen, York, tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm. Box office: 0871 902 5726 or at thebasementyork.co.uk