At home, Christopher has a forgiving wife, an adopted son, and a passionate lover. At work, he trades with Saudi Arabian warmongers. The two worlds don’t quite collide. Rather, they leak uncomfortably into each other, and we are left to witness the result. Alone in a prison cell, Chris revisits his life and those of the ones he lost. In Coriolanus Vanishes, his new solo performance, David Leddy portrays Chris’s recollection of his past in words of memorable, vivid poetry.
Attachment, lack, and abandonment are key-themes of the piece. In an early scene, Chris reveals his misgivings about his adopted child, grieving from an abusive infancy. The global warfare Chris engages in stands as a monstrous amplification of the small-scale violence of private life. One is never pinpointed as the causal source of the other, and the play never falls into simplistic shortcuts to explain its protagonist’s shortcomings. Rather, we are made to watch a life where violence has pervaded every corner.
The script of Coriolanus Vanishes beats with a rhythmic pulse. As Chris spirals into increasing despair, suffering from trauma and abuse, psychopathic detachment and spasms of uncontrollable anger, images and sounds echo each other hauntingly. Even chinks of light are tainted with blood. Leddy’s poetic reshuffling of Shakespeare’s lines (there are twenty of them hidden in the script) interlaces military and erotic metaphors so as to make them undistinguishable. The script is beautifully written without ever feeling overworked, and does credit to Leddy’s talent as a wordsmith.
Evoking his projects for the piece, Leddy reveals his desire to recast Chris as a woman, and his effort to keep the character’s gender undetermined. I hope to see such a recasting on stage, but there is no denying that this would be an intimidating part to learn and perform. Leddy’s performance is stunning, a fine balance between smoothness and anguish.
The performance is served by Becky Minto’s spare and elegant set – a large desk on a platform, set in front of a wall that changes colours throughout the performance, glowing red when Chris describes his encounters with his lover. A curtain continuously slides on and off, sometimes leaving nothing but a single square for Chris to peek into. As Chris’s world gradually shrinks, so does his access to us – and ours to him, until the final vanishing.