But it's the dazzling director Richard Jones - in one of his now too infrequent forays back to the theatrical stage from the operatic one upon which he usually plies his often controversial but always intriguing trade - who turns what is sometimes an aridly pretentious drama into a supremely agile, provocative one.
Famously influential in the theatrical movement known as the Theatre of the Absurd, Pirandello's play - in which six characters from an unfinished play disrupt the rehearsals for another one and demand that the actors listen to, then complete, their stories - is a fantasia on themes of the differences between illusion and reality, art and artifice. But Jones, whose production sees the six characters inhabiting more cruelly realistic lives than the exaggerated, camply theatrical ones being lived by the actors, is an expert at creating a jarring theatrical landscape that is at once intensely of the theatre yet also transcends it.
Here, these include filmic references - entering a completely re-configured Young Vic auditorium, with gilded chairs lined up in neat, raked rows facing a white screen, you feel you may be about to watch a movie. And so it begins - and ends - with a film projection (and, without spoiling it, quite the cleverest curtain call I've seen in years). As the characters burst out from behind the screen of a slide show that the play's director is giving his cast, it also recalls the similar wonderful device that Woody Allen used in Purple Rose of Cairo in which the screen actors stepped out of their movie roles and into 'real' life. As stunningly acted by a highly accomplished cast, including Beverley Klein, Liza Sadovy and Dale Rapley amongst the actors of the show-within-the-show being staged by a director (Darrel D'Silva) and his hilariously ruffled assistant (Catherine Malone), and Stephen Boxer, Yolanda Vasquez and Leah Muller as the principal family members whose disturbing story the actors seek to realise on stage, this is one of the cleverest productions in town right now. Not to be missed. Mark Shenton