Six Characters in Search of an Author

BECCA CLAYTON is moved by this strange and original play that blurs the lines between theatre and real life.

ADC theatre becca clayton hugh stubbins Saul Boyer Six Characters In Search Of An Author surrealism tania clark Victoria Fell

ADC Theatre, 11pm, Wed 16th – Sat 19th October, &6/5

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From the moment I arrived at the ADC theatre to watch Six Characters in Search of an Author, the atmosphere was set. As mentioned by the play itself, a good play requires ‘ingredients’ – the contrast between the naturalistic quality of the initial cast of actors and the surrealist theme of “characters in search of an author” was to create a very interesting performance.

The theatrical talents of Victoria Fell as the character of the step-daughter and Tania Clark as the stage manager set up an intriguing metatheatrical dichotomy between the alternative dimensions of the production – the production itself and the people who make it happen. The performance was indicative of the commercialized world of theatre in the way in which it exhibited the exploitation of emotion regarding the surrealist characters, using them only for their dramatic worth instead of treating them as real people.

This was particularly prominent at one moment where the step-daughter wept on stage while the director, played by Saul Boyer, hurriedly called for props, lighting and music to be added on set, the intention being to amplify her grief to his desired dramatic effect. Pirandello’s piece was modernized to the present day, yet the combination of a realistic approach and lines holding an almost fairytale-like quality such as “today’s realities are yesterday’s illusions” gave the play added depth by refusing to allow the audience to settle into the realm of either fact or fantasy. This ultimately added to the way in which the play seemed to sit somewhere between the real world and the fantasy world, where characters can be born from the writer’s pen as human beings and suffer all too pertinently as a result of their creator’s imagination.

The unique use of contrasting music within the play was commendable, as popular culture and dance music were used to frame certain scenes. At one point, Hugh Stubbins as the technician provided a hysterically comic interlude by interrupting the intensity of the play with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”. This conflicting musicality was most prominent as the play began to draw to a close, and pounding dance music accompanied a horrifying tale to the point where the words themselves were lost to the music – this served only to emphasize the helplessness of the characters.

The innovative use of music, combined with the intense lighting that left the audience uncomfortably exposed, created a finale that chillingly connected with the audience on a personal level. Throughout the play there was a growing sensation that something was spiraling out of control, and because of this the entire production was unsettling to say the least. The production had an abrasive and intrusive quality to it, seeming to pierce through the barriers between actor and audience – the result was real human empathy and internal reflection.

Six Characters in Search of an Author is a whirlwind of a play that conjured up a deep consideration about how actors ‘express inner life’ as opposed to simply impersonating it. A truly remarkable adaptation, with an incredibly talented cast to match.