Six Characters in Search of Pirandello

Playwright Tim Coakley has created an interesting twist on Luigi Pirandello’s groundbreaking play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, with his latest work, Six Characters in Search of Pirandello, directed by Petna Hapgood at the Lantern Theatre.

Stronger in concept than execution

Julian McDowell gives a measured and charming performance as Pirandello, complete with a goatee white moustache and beard and moments of eccentricity and frustration thrown into the mix to suggest a man who is entering his twilight years with a degree of resentment. With his great achievements behind him he still yearns to write and, one suspects, continue as the controversial figure whose radical works had created such a stir in the world of theatre and inspired a new generation of writers.

But the muse seems to have deserted him. What can the subject of his next play be and where are the characters who will carry his message to the world? Indeed, what is his message? Has he not expounded it enough already? Help appears in the form of the Stranger, who emerges from under a dust sheet; a statue suddenly brought to life in a room that might well be a study, but is so cluttered with junk it looks as though all the props from Pirandello’s collected works have been scattered around an attic depository.

Andrew Allen in this role suggest that rather than Pirandello racking his brain in search of the characters for his next play, perhaps the characters have come to find him; all six of them. If ‘one man in his time plays many parts’ then Allen introduces each to Pirandello until he realises that he has the material for his next opus.

In contrast to McDowell, Allen in the early scenes is loud and rather over-the-top. By the time he mellows the play has already overrun its course as the denouement becomes apparent and we are left to sit through its final unfolding.

The end result is a play that while being a novel take on the original is stronger in concept than execution.

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Reviews by Richard Beck

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★★★
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★★★★

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The Blurb

We present the world premiere of an important new play exploring the extraordinary ideas of Luigi Pirandello. Unlike anything you have seen before, alive with unusual stories, fascinating characters, and unexpected twists and turns, this very original play will give you a lot to talk about. Luigi Pirandello (1867 – 1936) was an Italian writer who won the Nobel prize in 1934. His most famous play “Six Characters in Search of an Author” is still performed today. This passionate and enigmatic man spent much of his life looking for answers to the puzzling contradictions of existence. He saw human beings as lost in a maze and social life as a drama in which we all hide behind masks. One of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, his ideas had a wide impact and inspired Beckett, Pinter and Sartre. At times a hilarious satire on social customs, at times a poignant exploration of the human condition, this is a play not to be missed.

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