By Luigi Pirandello
Adapted and translated by Ro’i Chen
Vulgar? Often. Blatant artifice? For sure. Art? Maybe. True to life? Depends on your point of view. Compelling theater? Absolutely.Six Characters juxtaposes theater and reality, life and art, art and artifice. The six characters interrupt the rehearsal of a Pirandello play, demanding to be heard, to be realized. Their author abandoned them in mid-creation, gave them life but denied them visibility. The program notes suggest that “the sincere desire to exist, to be, becomes a craving for ratings,” which makes this play timely once again for the Big Brother generation, to which everything, but everything plays out in the open. Publicity is all.Does the production work on its own terms? Yes. It deliberately mines excess, in Michael Kramenko’s deceptively simple set and costumes – the big-thrust stage shoves the action beyond the proscenium, where it needs to be – in the “characters”’ gestures and speech, in the “actors”’ studied reactions. The “real” and the “make-believe” are both heightened so that the one almost bleeds into the other.Sasha Demidov is quietly magnificent as The Director, as is YevgenyTerletzky as the Assistant Director. The Leading Lady and Man, NataliaManor and Alon Friedman hold fast to their characters, even whenthey’re silent, Lilian Ruth’s Mother radiates power by its veryminimalism, Moshe Ivgi as the Father and Neta Shpigelman as theDaughter are robustly present, while Yuval Yanay has a brilliant cameoas the awful Madame Pace.Not least, Ro’i Chen’s adaptation has grabbed the essentials and brought the play within a modern audience’s attention span.