Liola @ The National Theatre

My knowledge of Pirandello is about as extensive as anything Wikipedia could dredge up (I haven’t checked) in that I know Six Characters In Search Of An Author. And I have some of his other plays tucked away somewhere that I picked up second hand out of interest and never got around to reading. Liola is one such play, and one that has been dusted off and plonked onstage. It was the only play I could get cheap tickets for having seen The Pride - gay theatre at it’s most proficient and boring - and with The Dolls House, Ghosts and The Light Princess all having sold out or being £50+ (see also Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man which I would LOVE to see - applicants for a sugar daddy are being accepted).

Hilariously, in the foyer they had a massive poster which basically said “THIS IS NOTHING LIKE SIX CHARACTERS…”. What it was like was half naturalistic, half casual gypsy musical. Though it took a little while to adjust to their Irish-actually-Scillian breezy performance style, a kind of stylish caricature, you soon got sucked into their EastEnders-esque melodrama. The obvious scene stealer is the, what I like to call, “Maggie Smith” character (any eye-rolling elderly lady) and there’s lots of shouting and dancing and you’re almost expecting them to slip into a quick brummie line of “SHE’S ‘AVIN A BABY!”. Before you know it, they’re taking a curtain call and you haven’t noticed that there wasn’t an interval and you can’t possibly work out what would fit into the second act. It won’t change your life or opinion of oat sewing Sicilian men, but it does show you how invisible the hard work of a well staged piece of theatre is.