Pirandello's lucid display of the stratagems in motion between a separated couple is given a sleek, svelte form by David Hare – even a stodgy Bergson gag assumes a digestible texture. The compelling still point at the centre of this maelstrom of machinations (or the unlikely minotaur at the heart of the labyrinth) is husband Leone, played with a draughtsman's precision by Richard Griffiths: crisp and graceful, with a steady pulse of self-effacement which makes his climactic counter-gambit the more revelatory.
Jonathan Kent's clean direction, though, makes it something of an unequal match: David Yelland as his wife Silia's lover Guido is a little too reticent, and Nicola Pagett's Silia over-ready to self-dramatise, which undercuts her final hysterical grief more than is warranted. But the increasing volume (both figurative and literal) through the second half serves to emphasise Leone's solitude from those around him and their notions of honour. Pirandello's abiding preoccupation with masks and roles is easy either to fudge or overdo; Hare and Kent avoid both traps in a production where every move in the game is clear, striking and glitters like diamond.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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