Theatre

Coriolanus Vanishes

Tron Theatre, Glasgow- four stars

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AS writer, director and performer's note on the characteristically unusual programme for this new Fire Exit show says, David Leddy makes theatre that is both adult and sophisticated. At its simplest that means that it has a self-imposed 18 certificate, presumably for its descriptions of gay sex, and that it is staged with the sort of production values that aspire to a Robert Lepage-level budget. Although basically just one man at, on and under a knee-hole desk on a plinth, scenes are artfully framed and lit, different microphones colour the confessional, and pages fly from a book with choreographic precision.

On another level, Leddy has created a shabby little shocker, to borrow a famous description of the similarly melodramatic opera, Tosca. What is the crime for which his pinstriped character, Chris, has been incarcerated? It turns out, over a swift and engrossing hour and a quarter, that there are many reasons he might have been banged up, but it in the end he is a political prisoner, rather than a mere amoral murderer. And if he is a dangerous psychopath, we are to judge him even more damaged by his collusion with a corrupt society.

If Coriolanus Vanishes has a theatrical antecedent, it is not in Shakespeare but Tony Kushner's Angels in America – currently revived at the National in London – and specifically play's devil Roy Cohn. There is no self-delusion about Chris, however, but somehow the extended apology he is eventually allowed makes him seem just as culpable.

Leddy has been clear that he wants the part to be played by someone else – specifically a woman – and although he portrays his creation with flashes of individual brilliance, there is surely more to be wrung from the piece. A little less technical gimmickry may also be no bad thing.