Theatre Review: The Ching Room

There's a strong touch of the surreal, too, in both of the current Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime productions, each of which involves a dialogue with a character who seems part human, part ghost or demon.

In Alan Bissett's The Ching Room – now at the Traverse, following its transfer from Glasgow – our hero Rory (Colin McCredie, of Taggart fame) rushes into a toilet cubicle in a Sauchiehall Street nightclub, only to find it occupied by someone called Darren, who is not so much a drug-dealer as a high priest of the religion of cocaine-induced euphoria. It's a strange and complex conceit for a short play, and even over 40 minutes, the dramatic structure sometimes creaks slightly at the seams.

But if the character of Rory sometimes seems overloaded with background detail, the piece is completely redeemed by the subtle depth of its meditation on drug culture as a tragi-comic form of transcendence, where squalid episodes of violence and abuse coexist with fleeting glimpses of poetry, eternity, and true communion; and by a completely thrilling performance from Andy Clark as Darren, a demon for our times, full of those shape-shifting transitions from bullying to beseeching, friendship to ferocity, that have characterised all the best devils since the days of Faust.

The Ching Room is at the Traverse, Edinburgh, until 28 March