Theatre Review: ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by WSC Avant Bard

Photo courtesy of C Stanley Photography.

Without doubt, a theatre company dedicated to breathing fresh life into the classics has given itself a bold charge.  With a Shakespeare, the charge is evident. If anything, companies produce Shakespeare too often for their own good, making a fresh look increasingly difficult.  With a play likeSix Characters in Search of an Author, written in 1921 by Italian Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello, such a charge assumes a different weight.  Though well known among theatre professionals, this modern classic is rarely presented on stage in America.  Its philosophical underpinnings and pre-absurdist style have become a part of popular culture, thus raising the question: what exactly would a fresh take on this play look like?

WSC Avant Bard does an admirable job bringing Pirandello’s Six Characters to life.  Unfortunately, however, that life, which held such promise, does not resonate enough either intellectually or emotionally beyond the boards.  Instead of leaving the audience piqued by the play’s inventive premise or emotionally rattled by the familial trauma unfolding before us, the

production comes across more like a museum piece—a curiosity if you will that we’re thankful for having seen but don’t really know why, its contemporary relevance being muddied in the staging.

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About Michael

Michael Oliver has been working in the fields of theatre and education for well over thirty years at not only the secondary and university levels, but professionally, as the co-founder of The Sanctuary Theatre, Inc. Established in 1983, the theatre became well-known throughout the Washington area for its cutting-edge productions. He is now the Director of Sanctuary's The Performing Knowledge Project: where performance and education meet.
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