GLASGOW-BORN writer-director Armando Iannucci continues to make hay from the grubby business of politics in The Death Of Stalin.

Set in 1953 Moscow, this razor-sharp satire builds on the giddy success of TV sitcoms The Thick Of It and Veep, and the Oscar-nominated 2009 film In The Loop, which brilliantly lampooned US and UK military intervention in the Middle East.

The script, co-written by David Schneider and Ian Martin, is polished to a dazzling lustre.

The vast arsenal of one-liners is delivered at a delirious and frenetic pace by a well-drilled ensemble cast.

Wisely, no-one attempts a cod-Soviet accent, which could be an unnecessary distraction from the high-tempo verbal ping pong.

Instead, we have a bewildering melting pot of English and American voices that reflect the escalating pandemonium following Stalin’s inglorious demise.

Bizarrely, Jason Isaacs chooses a Yorkshire burr for his foul-mouthed and bullish Red Army general, who prefers to make his point with the pull of a trigger. Moscow is a city under the yoke of a tyrannical General Secretary (Adrian McLoughlin), who mercilessly executes dissenters in the ranks.

When Stalin’s meddling creates unnecessary panic at a live radio recording of a piano concerto, virtuoso soloist Maria Yudina (Olga Kurylenko) voices her displeasure in a letter.

When the General Secretary reads her swingeing missive, he collapses and dies.

The following morning, chief of security Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale) is first on the grim scene and gathers classified documents that could prove valuable in the coming days. Close adviser Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) arrives soon afterwards.

They are quickly joined by other members of the inner circle. Behind the scenes, these men forge secret alliances to fill the power vacuum and worm their way into the affections of Stalin’s distraught son Vasily (Rupert Friend) and daughter Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough).

The Death Of Stalin is a ghoulish black comedy that deftly melds historical fact and bile-drenched fiction.

Iannucci relishes parallels to modern-day diplomatic wrangling as over-inflated male egos collide head-on. Tragedy and delirium march side by side as the pursuit of self-promotion descends into farce. Iannucci’s beautiful nightmare is a dizzying dance macabre to savour.

RATING: 8.5/10