In 1921, Luigi Pirandello's groundbreaking play Six Characters in Search of an Author premiered in Rome to great acclaim and great scandal. The innovative plot, in which six characters rebel against their author and insist on living out their own realities, made Pirandello one of the earliest writers to investigate the relationship between a playwright and his characters. His work influenced major theatrical voices throughout the 20th century, from Samuel Beckett to Edward Albee. While the idea of a "show within a show" was hardly new (see Shakespeare), Pirandello's close examination of the back-and-forth relationship between a creator and his creation offered thrilling new possibilities for shedding light on how theater is made. Which is more authentic, illusion or reality? Do you write the play, or does the play write you?
With six demanding actors surrounding one flummoxed playwright, Frank J. Avella's The Bubble seems to channel Pirandello's classic work. Unfortunately, the meandering, unfocused script and muddled production do little to explore Pirandello's questions about reality and truth. With its content often messy and frequently misguided, this Bubble is best left intact.
In Act 1 we meet The Writer (Joe Pistone), who is feverishly, spasmodically trying to pen a new script. His subjects, however, are uncooperative, forcing him to rewrite characters, experiment with styles (opera, musicals, melodrama, and performance art all appear), and generally rip out his hair in frustration and despair. A truthful account of an author's woes? Perhaps. Thought provoking or interesting to watch? Sadly, no.
By Act 2, The Writer's play has moved into rehearsals, and we find the same six characters in new incarnations as part of the production