on 7 March 2001
This play provoked outrage among theatre-goers at its first ever performance: not only did it defy dramatic conventions by confusing reality with fiction, but it also made the audience assess their lives anew with a harsh examination of human personalities and motivations. Fictional characters are contrasted with human beings (represented on stage by the 'actors' in the play). In art a character is stable, unable to break out of the mould fashioned by its creator; we however are continually changeable creatures who between one day and the next transform ourselves to such an extent that we have no solid 'character' at all. This is the essence of Six Characters in Search of an Author: the difficulty, even impossibility of human communication when, like Heraclitus' river, we are never the same at any two given moments. Like most of Pirandello's work, the most obvious 'plot' is tangential. The real issues are philosophical, and this wonderfully crafted piece of work is at once harrowing and stimulating.