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Coriolanus Vanishes review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘stylish and startling’

Irene Allan in Coriolanus Vanishes at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Sid Scott Irene Allan in Coriolanus Vanishes at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Sid Scott
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Originally performed by its author David Leddy, this monologue has to be one of the most stylish productions at the Edinburgh Fringe.

More a concept album than a monologue in the way its scenes vary in pace, tone and texture, Leddy’s Coriolanus Vanishes tells the story of Chris, facing a crisis point after three people close to her have died.

But the script, gripping in itself, is made even better by the startling variety of Irene Allan’s performance and a design like few others.

Leddy’s astonishing script tumbles out of Allan’s mouth in incredibly quick, Beckettian fragments, or great screams, or slower love elegies. In instants she’s loveable, despicable, callous, crass, pitiable. It never settles, and never stops being thrilling.

Allan’s at a desk, pierced by laser points or bathed in changing neon shades. Scenes change with dazzlingly quick shifts in light, Nich Smith’s lighting shining from unpredictable locations, coordinated to the millisecond with Danny Krass’ sound.

Leddy wrote the piece as gender neutral, and it’s clear it would have completely different strengths and resonances depending on who’s performing. But with a woman performing it, so many gender stereotypes become upended.

Chris is unashamedly explicit about her sexuality. It’s rare to see a bisexual character and for the show not to be about that. Rare too to have such a psychologically complex, morally dubious and frequently unlikeable female character given such full form – through the perfect unity of script, design and performance.

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Verdict
David Leddy's gender-neutral monologue must be one of the most stylish productions at the Edinburgh Fringe
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