The co-production from Headlong Theatre, of which Goold is artistic director, was first seen in July at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, where Goold’s award-laden Patrick Stewart-led Macbeth began last summer ahead of its transfer to the Gielgud and on to Broadway.
Goold and co-adapter Ben Power have updated the play to cater for the “media-obsessed age” of the 21st century (See News, 29 Jan 2008). In the exploration of reality and the blurred border between fiction and life, between the stage and the world outside, six characters arrive unannounced during the editing of a documentary film. Unfinished characters desperately in search of an author, the documentary producer agrees to let them film their story.
The cast is led by former Almeida joint artistic director Ian McDiarmid (pictured), who was taken ill shortly after the press performance but is expected back next week (See Today\'s Other News). He is joined by Jamie Bower, Eleanor David, Noma Dumezweni, Dyfan Dwyfor, Christine Entwisle, Denise Gough, Jake Harders, Jeremy Joyce, John Mackay and Robin Pearce. Six Characters in Search of an Author is designed by Mariam Beuther, with lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, video by Lorna Heavey and sound by Adam Cork.
Critical reactions were even warmer for the West End transfer than those that greeted the original Chichester run. The reason for this cited by the Guardian’s Michael Billington (who saw it in both venues) is the suitability of the Gielgud’s proscenium-arch layout for “this most meta-theatrical of plays”. Critics cheered the production for providing a “boldness seldom encountered in the West End”, as well as lauding a “powerful” array of performances (particularly the “outstanding” Ian McDiarmid). But most column inches were taken up by praise for director Rupert Goold, heralded variously as “exhilaratingly imaginative” and the “hottest director on the theatrical block”.
NOTE: The following review was in response to the original run at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre.
- by Theo Bosanquet