Friday, October 7, 2011

'6 Characters': Another Challenge from the Gamut Girls

The play begins, here, before it actually begins (which is why I could shoot a pix)
When I leave a theater talking about how brave the company was for putting on a specific play, that's generally code for not liking the play. I was all over the courage of the Gamut girls (Miriam Frazier and Kathy Guy) tonight with their production of "6 Characters in Search of An Author" by Luigi Pirandello, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934. The prize cited his "bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage."

He did some serious renovating with "6 Characters," a multi-level, esoteric work that is difficult to grasp for the first two-thirds and then almost impossible to let go of afterwards. This is a look at six wandering characters from an unproduced play, living their spare existence by attempting to re-live what they've been cast in for god-knows-how-long. At one point, one of those characters says, "We have no reality beyond this illusion," and you can feel the lights go on in the room.

I'm going to let you figure this one out for yourself and I will recommend that you see it if you are up to a theatrical challenge and are not looking for "My Fair Lady." It's tough stuff, difficult dialogue, puzzling and often stark characters. Our little theater group carries this one off, as it so often does, but it is left to you to determine if Pirandello is a jaded cynic, a romantic or just a nutjob.

One of the elements I thoroughly enjoyed about this challenging play--with its 15 characters--is the "inside baseball" references made to the various theater groups and venues in Roanoke. Some are quite revealing, some fun, one or two slightly bitchy, but all entertaining.

I can't say you'll like this one, but I can say it won't bore you. One tip: get there a few minutes ahead of the 8 o'clock announced starting time. This oddball play actually begins before it begins and you don't want to miss that.

"6 Characters" plays again Saturday, then again Thursday-Saturday next week at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are available for $15 each here.

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