Six Characters In Search Of An Author

Posted on: 09 October 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Pirandello's play is perfect for today's media age.


How can we be sure what we are watching on television or reading in newspapers is a real representation of the truth in the society in which we live?

This is the question posed by Rupert Goold’s radical re-imagining of Pirandello’s 1920’s classic Six Characters in Search of an Author which, following a sell-out season at the Chichester Festival Theatre, has arrived in London’s West End at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1.

Six strangers appear unannounced during the editing of a television docudrama dealing with assisted suicides and they declare themselves characters in search of an author.

As their dark narrative unfolds involving incest, suicide and sibling murder, the fragmented tale of a family torn apart by the problems of communication, sex and death takes shape as the documentary maker begins to film their story and reality and fiction become increasingly blurred.

This spooky, updated version of Pirandello’s play emerges as a parable for a media obsessed age and an exhilarating exploration of how we define ourselves in the 21st century.

Admittedly this production which deftly mixes satire, subversion, drama and tragedy appears at times rather confusing and the humour somewhat strained in the first half but in the second everything comes together most satisfactorily.

Miriam Buether’s striking set of a high-tech, glass fronted office acts as the perfect backdrop for the events taking place on stage while the use of computer screens, video monitors and back projection gives the production a strong element of reality.

Heading an immaculate cast is Ian McDiarmid who plays the guilt-ridden father in the story re-enacted by the strangers with a mixture of relish and conviction.  Eleanor David as the mother, Dyfan Dwyfor as the son, Denise Gough as the step-daughter and Noma Dumezweni as the television producer are equally impressive, never letting their performances for one minute go over the top.

This in short is a hugely inventive, frequently funny production that provides considerable food for thought.

Laurence Green

Runs until 8th November 2008.

Booking Information

Box office: 0844 482 5130 or: www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Theatres/gielgud_theatre.php

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