Review: Coriolanus Vanishes

A dark and stylish monologue of a life falling apart.

★★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Coriolanus Vanishes. Image: Tommy Ga Ken Wan
Published 07 Aug 2018

At a desk in a darkened, neon-lit room, a woman tells her story. Her voice is captivating—oscillating peaks of gentle tenderness and boiling sexuality—and her story follows the same pattern. She has a loving wife and a young adopted son whose behavior appears to be a problem, yet she wishes to cast off these responsibilities for a raw sexual affair with a man she meets.

This woman has been bereaved three times in quick succession, and her hurt and confusion are beginning to affect her mental health. Parallel to her personal revelations, the play opens a window upon her working life, an internationally sensitive position whose moral compromises she can no longer separate from her own morality. This is a woman living on the edge and threatening to take down those around her.

Recast from its earlier presentation with writer and director David Leddy in the lone acting role, Coriolanus Vanishes crests on the waves of a nuanced and captivatingly powerful performance from Irene Allen. The play was written to be performed by either a male or female actor, and it would be interesting to see Allen's performance in a double bill with Leddy's.

Thematically the play feels a little overloaded at times, surging between the international arms trade, parenthood, sexual betrayal, bereavement and mental health issues. Yet the design team of Becky Minto, Nich Smith and Danny Krass have done outstanding work to match Allen’s performance, and the very final second of the show offers a finale more heart-stopping than any other on the Fringe.