RICHARD Gadd is drenched in sweat at the end of this staggering hour. It’s a sight familiar to those who last caught Gadd at the Fringe in 2016 with Monkey See, Monkey Do, the show which saw him become only the second Scottish stand-up to win the Edinburgh Comedy Award.

After a decade of Fringe comedy shows, Gadd makes his theatrical debut with Baby Reindeer, a tightly-wound monologue telling a chilling personal story while exploring questions about unintended consequences and the limits of personal responsibility.

The move to theatre feels less radical than it might: Gadd, a classically-trained actor, has always fuelled his comedy shows with high drama.

Baby Reindeer may “straddle both truth and fiction”, according to the programme notes, but other than to protect the privacy of those involved, there’s no reason not to take him at his word. Gadd is not playing it for laughs: apart from a couple of tension-relieving gags, Baby Reindeer is a serious piece. That’s entirely appropriate.

Earlier this decade, Gadd attempted to deal with trauma through comedy which was sometimes schlocky, even sordid.

But what’s recounted here seems too raw, too present, too overwhelming to be laughed away.

It began by giving a cup of tea to a stranger in need, he explains, spinning on a revolving podium. The consequences of that act of kindness were indeed dizzying.

Matched by flashing images of internet searches, emails and texts projected into the circular venue’s ceiling, Gadd breathlessly recounts the impact on his day job, professional career, family, personal relationships and ideas of himself as a man.

Later in the evening, the same venue hosts Square Go, Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s award-winning exploration of masculinity set in a boxing ring. They at least have the cover of fiction. Gadd, a compelling performer with an acute sense of timing and nuance, bares his insecurities and confusions. That he has marshalled this messy, difficult story into a script as taut as a classic thriller is impressive.

It’s his courage and empathy – the quality which led to that fateful interaction – which elevates Baby Reindeer above the confessional to a challenging contemporary parable on obsession, trauma and the universal need for love.

Until August 25, (not 13, 17 and 20), Roundabout, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 6.25pm, £14 and £16, £12 and £13 concs. Tel: 0131 560 1581.