First published in The Times, Thursday November 19 2015
Over the past decade, David Leddy, the artistic director of Fire Exit, has built up a deserved reputation for innovation. His previous works include a site-specific webcast streamed live from his Glasgow flat and an immersive play, set in Japan, for which the audience was invited to sip white tea while wrapped in kimonos. In this context, his latest work, a two-hander with a single-room setting, looks like a radical departure.
Indeed, at first glance, Leddy’s play appears every inch the conventional “will- they-won’t-they?” rom-com, albeit set in the world’s most expensive hotel and fuelled by the finest champagne. There is palpable sexual tension between the protagonists, Celia (Louise Ludgate) and Oliver (Mark Prendergast), the chief executive of a beleaguered charity and her loyal wingman, reduced to pitching for funding from a corrupt dictator at an international conference.
This being Leddy, the course of true love is complicated by a variety of factors, not least Oliver’s ambivalent sexuality and the dilemma of whether to risk the dictator’s wrath by turning down his dirty cash. With the president’s bodyguards posted downstairs, this could prove a life or death decision.
Over the course of a fast-paced 50 minutes, Leddy’s script touches upon an array of themes, including the ethics of charitable funding, the fluid nature of sexuality and the indignities of the modern workplace. Inevitably, Celia and Oliver’s drunken back-and-forth becomes a little rambling at times, darting capriciously from subject to subject, with the play at its most poignant and insightful when the playwright settles on the phenomenon of midlife loneliness and the double-edged sword of social media. The material is channelled with the required lightness of touch by Joe Douglas, the director, while Ludgate and Prendergast also prove adept at negotiating the script’s twists and turns.
Box office: 01224 642230, to Nov 21; transferring to Òran Mór, Glasgow, Nov 23-28