Summary: “Luigi Pirandello’s disturbing masterpiece comes to the St Andrews stage, adapted by Joseph Cunningham. Six Characters follows a production company rehearsing a play about euthanasia. Mid-rehearsal, the process is hi-jacked by a family of abandoned characters desperate to complete their tragedy. The realities of theatre, however, are far from fixed. What begins as a farce swiftly spirals into horror as the company is pulled into the constructed world of the characters–and that of the audience.”
1. Tell us a little about Six Characters
Joe: Broadly speaking, Six Characters is theatre about theatre. It is actually pretty difficult to say much about the show without spoilers, so I’m keeping my cards close to my chest on this one. All I’ll say about the plot is that we follow a production team struggling with problems they are facing with a play that has a somewhat dubious subject matter when they are interrupted – or hijacked – by a family of theatrical constructs: the Six Characters of the title. The show should be a must-see for anyone interested with the question of what drives us to tell stories and the nature of reality within the theatre.This is a show for ‘narrative junkies’ everywhere… but not for the faint-hearted.
2. The play is described as spiraling into horror? Horror isn’t something that features on the St Andrews stage very much… what can the audience expect… is Six Characters a psychological drama?
Joe: I think it is a shame that we don’t see much ‘horror’ in St Andrews: fear and shock are such primal emotions and are incredibly interesting to explore. I’m not sure that Six Characters could be described as psychodrama in a strict sense, but then again it is notoriously difficult to pin down with categories: since reality blurs and ultimately disintegrates, it becomes impossible to know for certain where the show ‘exists’ as it were – be it in the mind, or a level of reality beyond. The play has always been described as shocking and consistently incurs walkouts when performed professionally, but requires constant modernisation to maintain that shock value – we have added a ‘meta-layer’ to the plot in order to explore the reasons why people attempt to shock in art, yet I think it is imperative to note that we certainly have not been gratuitous. We aren’t dealing with theatre of cruelty here – shock for the sake of shock – there are underlying reasons behind it. The audience can expect to leave feeling incredibly shaken: I have background in hypnosis, and we are using a few tricks to ensure that the audience will remain ‘under our spell’ for a long time after the final curtain.
3. There are a lot of great events happening around town with On The Rocks, what makes Six Characters special?
Joe: Love it or loathe it, Six Characters is an experience that will not soon be forgotten, and will hopefully leave people with some powerful feelings and strong opinions. We do not see this sort of thing in St Andrews very often, so get in there before it is gone! It is provocative, compelling and disturbing – for better or for worse, it will melt your mind and haunt you for days.
On the Rocks
Photo credits go to Mathilde Johnsen and On the Rocks. The show summary is taken from the On the Rocks 2013 Programme.