Wouldn't you know it:

you wait years for Forced Entertainment to come back to Glasgow, then they bring two shows at once. Two very different shows, however, as the company's artistic director Tim Etchells explains.

"Tomorrow's Parties is intimate, very focussed - it's two people speculating on the future, throwing up all kinds of contradictions in the process. The Coming Storm is more theatrical and chaotic, with six people on stage telling stories that are interrupted, upstaged by the others... it all gets very messy, very silly."

And yet, this being Forced Entertainment, both pieces end up being serious, wonderfully intriguing works that encourage audiences to question what they know and understand about the mechanics of communication, particularly in relation to the act and art of live theatre-making.

Now, Etchells is no Luddite, denouncing all things virtual and digital. Forced Entertainment's back catalogue includes forays into computer graphics and filmmaking as an adjunct to performance. But there is an in-the-moment chemistry between live performer and an audience he cherishes.

"I am really interested in what happens when you convene people together in a certain place at a certain time," he admits. "And I find I am increasingly focussed on that: on that really strange and magical space where you can't predict every reaction. There are maybe 200 people - how do you know what that shared presence is feeling? Or seeing, or hearing? And for me, that is a really important part of live work."

His curiosity about how we "read" and respond to the kind of work that Forced Entertainment creates - work that is hard to niche, because of how it jigsaws different styles and energies together - has been further fuelled because of the touring circuits that see the company working more in mainland Europe than in the UK, although home base is still firmly rooted in Sheffield.

"It's fascinating," he says, his passion for language, syntax and structure surfacing in a markedly buoyant tone of voice. "We spend so much of our time now playing to audiences that have English as a second language. And I notice that my own vocabulary, my way of speaking, has changed in all sort of ways because of that.

"When we come back to the UK, of course, we immediately notice people's nimbleness with the language and their speed with the language. It is a whole different context, and yet outside of the UK there seems to be more space for work like ours. A kind of openness that welcomes work that is on the border between theatre and other forms, that is not fixed in an exact category."

He will go on to add that for European audiences it probably helps that "while the use of language is sophisticated, the language itself tends to be quite simple. It is a no-frills vocabulary, not really a very dense, poetic troubling text - often used, really, to float pictures in a very vivid and immediate way. The complexity gets introduced on the other side of that complexity, if you like."

In The Coming Storm, that complexity arrives in the hugger-mugger array of daft props, outbursts of (inappropriate) musical accompaniments, bits of dance and a general air of gung-ho mischief and mayhem as folk jostle to claim centre stage with tales of love and death, sex and laundry and shipwreck.

The mix is sublimely ridiculous, and yet it has the proven power to shock and surprise, turn laughter into a quandary of emotions that provoke thoughts about our own personal narratives and the possible overlap between our daily performance and what we have witnessed on stage.

More provocations arrive with Tomorrow's Parties. "Like a lot of our work," says Etchells, "it offers a quite contradictory set of ideas and statements that it does not resolve for you. It is not about easy answers, rather it builds on its contradictions and what you see are these two people juggling all these speculative possibilities.

"Some of it is familiar: it is what we know from the news, the media. Some of it comes from science fiction or the internet. Some of it is just mad things that the performers have dragged out of their own imagination. And some of it might come true, some of it might not. What audiences see is two people trying to cope with all these variables, and that is where it rests. Because that is where we all are, really."

After almost 30 years - the six core members of Forced Entertainment came together in 1984 - the shared itch to play subversive games with theatrical conventions and discover meaningful truths still sees the company working and touring together, their profile at home and abroad higher than ever before.

Two shows, one opportunity to see both - catch them while you can. It could be a long wait before they come back again.

Forced Entertainment are at Tramway, Glasgow, with The Coming Storm on Thursday and Tomorrow's Parties on Friday, www.tramway.org