Karen, Bruce, Peter, and Valerie and I went to BAM on 10/31 to see Pirandello’s *Six Characters in Search of an Author*. We had our standard pre-BAM dinner at 67 Burger, a fantastic dressed up burger joint very close to the BAM theaters. I almost always get the tofu burger with the southwestern toppings - - chipotle mayonnaise, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, scallions, and pepper jack cheese. It’s divine. But I always get that, and I just got it a few weeks before, when Karen and I saw the Beckett triple bill. So I decided to try something different - - I got the veggie burger with goat cheese and red wine pickled onions. It was not good. The veggie burger was devoid of flavor, and the goat cheese was gummy. I ate the whole thing, because I paid for it and what else was I going to eat, but it’s the last time I try something different just for the sake of trying something different.
I mention dinner because the show was not so spectacular. It’s one of those plays that’s seen as a cornerstone of modern theatre but doesn’t appear to be produced very often. Here’s the situation: a group of actors, technicians, etc are rehearsing a play and are interrupted by a group of six people (The Father, The Mother, The Stepdaughter, The Son, The Boy, and The Child) who ask if they could be given a chance to perform their story. They’re characters from a play that their author discarded, and they’re doomed to a life to traveling from theatre to theatre, looking for a chance to share their story with an audience.
Sounds like a situation ripe with possibilities, no? Well, the play is way too chatty. This was particularly problematic in the production we saw, because it was brought from Paris, and done in French. The supertitles came fast and furious, and we all had varying degrees of luck reading them, because the light from the stage was spilling onto the title screen. It made me weary.
I saw an opera version of the play in Chicago in 1990 and that was fantastic! The composer, Hugo Weisgall, distilled the drama and his music gave new depth and emotion to the situations. I’d love to see the opera again. For the operaphiles on my list, I’ll point out that production was presented by the Lyric Opera apprentice program, and featured a great cast of people who went on to bigger and better things: Elizabeth Futral, Robert Orth, Nancy Maultsby, Gary Lehman, and (most memorably) Elizabeth Byrne.