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Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Pirandello Adaptation at Walden Makes for Accessible Absurdism

Oliver Cox Caitlin Sullivan, Evelyn Cooley, Spencer Wells, Travis Ryan
 & Catherine Young in Six Characters in Search of an Author. Photo – Walden Theatre.

Six Characters in Search of an Author

by Luigi Pirandello
Adaptation by Steve Moulds
Directed by Hallie Dizderevic

Review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

The current production at Walden Theatre is the quintessential absurdist piece, Six Characters in Search of an Author. A play which handles topics such as existence, reality and truth would not be my first choice for a conservatory of actors who are 18 years old and under. These meaty and heavy topics along with the coarse action within the play present elements of theater which younger actors might not be ready to fully explore as they learn the fundamentals. Luckily for Walden Theatre, Steve Moulds has adapted Pirandello’s piece into an accessible script for students to grasp.

With the concept of a staged reading fundraiser as the backdrop, the lines of what is real and what is fake are blurred as soon as you enter the theater. Andrea Lowry and Marty Chester are a couple of stage managers scrambling around the set, sweeping the stage and talking to audience members as they enter. This technique of blurring the real life from the fantasy stays true through the entire production. Using actors' real names and references to faculty and other day-to-day life, as well as employing a seemingly improvisational technique, laid the building blocks for the six fictional characters to randomly break through. This type of natural approach is a skill that is not easy, and these students appear to have the tools to make realistic portrayal work to their advantage.

As for the six characters who abruptly force their way into the staged reading: they provide a stiff and mechanical portrayal of a family in ruins. With pale faces and dark clothing, the contrast against the Walden students helps create a scene in which any kind of lines between reality and fiction are thrown to the ground. As they yell, cry and harshly ostracize one another, the world within these characters' lives dominates the rest of the actions. Travis Ryan is The Father. Reserved and calm, Ryan approaches the patriarch role as a position of dominance without ever breaking his cool as he searches for an author. Catherine Young and Spencer Wells provide highly emotional performances as The Stepdaughter and The Son, respectively. They dive deep into their brooding parts, creating characters who leave an impression in the audience's mind long after the curtain call.

With this Six Characters, Walden Theater has put together a well-crafted piece of absurdist theater accessible to all audiences. Staying true to the existential topics while adapting the work to a modern day concept, this play is a perfect introduction to Pirandello.

Six Characters in Search of an Author

October 10-19, 2013


Walden Theater
Nancy Niles Sexton Stage
1123 Payne Street

Louisville, KY 40204                                                                                                                           502-589-0084
www.WaldenTheatre.org

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