Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is the only image
I could find on the Bristol Old Vic website for the utterly amazing new touring production of Six Characters in Search of an Author, sort-of by Pirandello, and maybe it's fitting that it's nothing to do with any of the onstage stories dovetailing thematically and interweaving emotionally: it's a section of audience looking variably enraptured and bemused.

So here's a picture of Luigi Pirandello, who didn't write this version, and the principal actor, who is better known as Wycliffe on the telly, all of which confusion seems totally appropriate for a performance that challenges both authorship & ownership, and our notions of entertainment & integrity. "The medium is the message", Marshall McLuhan pronounced back in 1964, long before intrusive docu-dramas were shaping lives and sensibilities; nowadays we're so used to the debates, both ethical and aesthetic, that this provocative interpretation of Six Characters by Headlong is simply electrifying. Is this the story of a film producer dedicated to finding the 'truth' beyond the tear-jerk euthanasia story of the death of a boy, or is it the less noble, more torrid, story of six non-existing characters who claim " we are more than real, we are immutable." Both stories climax with the death of a boy, but the abuses and tragedy of the drama involve beautiful and extraordinary theatrical qualities, creating another strand of paradox in this densely layered and marvellous production. It's still touring, reaching Cardiff in November - go if you can.

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