Note: This review is from the 2018 Fringe

In 2017 Coriolanus Vanishes received its world premiere at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. The play was performed by the writer of the piece – David Leddy. For this 2018 edition at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe, Irene Allan takes on the central role. Coriolanus Vanishes was written to be played by any gender where the audience follow the story of Chris. Despite changing the gender of the protagonist, the text is performed without adapting or editing a single word within the script.

David Leddy has a reputation for being an experimental theatre-maker, with shows such as Long Live The Little Knife and The Last Bordello challenging audiences and pushing boundaries in form and content. Coriolanus Vanishes takes it starting point from the Shakespeare play Coriolanus, but pushes the themes of struggle, military and humanity to a personal and self conscious level.

Chris is a tormented character. They live in a claustrophobic and foreboding prison where they contemplate global terrorism, family, relationships, guilt, sex and death. At times Coriolanus Vanishes is an intimate and introverted performance. The delivery is hushed and understated as we hear about family days-out and joyful moments of clarity. Then Chris fumbles around in a drawer (a desk and chair make up the set on the stage) and pulls out a microphone, a telephone and eventually a large flash light. Communication both verbally and physically underline the distance and isolation of Chris and forces the audience into their frustration. Here the story plays with time and emotion as Chris debates arms dealerships, murder and terrorism.

The anxiety of the protagonist is fully conveyed through electric and sharp lighting (from lighting designer Nich Smith) that fully reflects the torment and inner conflict that is presented. When this combines with Irene Allan’s pulsating delivery of David Leddy’s script, the result is a gripping and innovative show that feels like an expanded and modern take on Samuel Beckett’s Not I.