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“6 Characters in Search of an Author”

What a strange play, and I think I can safely say, the one that I liked least from the Rep in all the years I’ve been reviewing!

I appreciate the need to give the public a diverse programme for the season, but I believe it was Jenna Ryder-Oliver’s first outing as a Director for the Rep, and whilst there were some good decisions made, and I liked the use of the front of the auditorium for the Director and his assistant, there were many instances when the characters were more or less hidden in the wings, and I would have liked them to be slightly more on stage, as this appeared to me to be a play that relied a lot on facial expressions, as apart from the odd interjection, there were really only three characters that had any real dialogue to get their teeth into.

The lighting was very atmospheric, but again a tad too dark in some places for my liking, and some of the characters seemed to be missing their spot and playing out of light at times.  I liked the blue light on the backdrop when requested by the Director, added a new dimension to the rather drab set.

The final scene was very telling, but as a whole, the audience weren’t sure whether the play had finished or not, and because there was no synopsis of scenes, except to say that there was a 20 minute interval,  when there was a break between Act 2 and 3 – the audience again were looking for guidance!

I know I’m always commenting on the bows, but in this case they were non-existent, and although I applaud the courageous decision not to have them, it did rather leave us all in limbo.

I didn’t like the black box stage set, and the fact that the intervening family were all dressed in black, they seemed to blend too much with the background, and in the first instance I was wondering if this was all supposed to be an illusion.

It would have been nice to have a short biog of each of the actors in the programme, as many were unknown to us, and it would have been nice to know a bit about them, which helps with my review!

So, on to the actors.  I thought the leading man, Jamie Staton, did remarkably well, as I understand he had taken over from the original person cast, and although he had to have a few prompts (very understandable) the meaning behind the words was kept.

Francesca Burchill was the other main protagonist, and I wasn’t sure about her at the beginning, but as we got into the play and her story began to pan out, i appreciated her more, and thought she did a good job.

Alistair Brown as the Director, held it all together in his inimitable way, and his normal actors, although they had little to do, managed to keep the play grounded.  

A special mention to Georgia Sweeney, who played the Little Girl on the night I was there – she kept her composure throughout, looked interested in the action, and acted the final part when she was playing in the lake and then drowned very well. My eyes kept turning to her during the long speeches, and she kept her character the whole way through - very well done.

I also liked Katy Elliott as Madame Pace, as very upbeat and welcome intervention, that lifted the play.

So, suffice to say, I was not a fan of the play, although there were some good moments in it, and some good performances, but I know a few audience members who like me, knew nothing about the play, found it a little confusing and not one that they were drawn to.

Dunstable Rep

“6 Characters in Search of an Author”

review date: 10th May 2016

Little Theatre, Dunstable

Director:  Jenna Ryder-Oliver  


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