SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR by Luigi Pirandello, directed by Tadeusz Bradecki, with Blair Williams, Norman Browning, Kelli Fox, Sharry Flett, Jason Chesworth, Brigitte Robinson and Nigel Shawn Williams. Presented by the Shaw Festival at the Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Runs in rep to September 22. $25-$75. 1-800-511-7429. Rating: NNNN
the most thought-provoking and unsettling play at the Shaw Festival this summer? It's Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author, a revival from last year that's become even more chilling in the remount, again led by visiting director Tadeusz Bradecki.A strange family dressed in Victorian black, characters in an unfinished play, descend upon a contemporary theatre company rehearsing a play and ask the director to mount a work based on their history, an intriguing tale of selfishness, seduction and death. The modern company never quite grasp the fact that these characters don't want other people to tell their story.
In lesser hands, this piece about the philosophy of theatre and the intermingling of illusion and reality could become a dry-as-dust exercise, but Bradecki and the Shaw ensemble expertly heighten its drama. Brigitte Robinson and Nigel Shawn Williams make nicely egocentric leading actors, and I'd love to know who is the model for Blair Williams's comically self-centred, mannered director. Sarah Orenstein has a magical and striking comic turn as a milliner who's central to the characters' tale.
But it's the mysterious family -- notably the condescending, choleric father (Norman Browning), the emotionally pent-up mother (Sharry Flett) and the multi-faceted, seductive step-daughter (Kelli Fox) -- who anchor this superb production.
Whether they're at each other's throats or beseeching the company to acknowledge their lives' unchanging reality, these figures prove richer, charged with more energy, than anyone else onstage. And, in this suggestive production, at least as vivid as anyone in the audience.stage reviews