A disappointing lack of polishjohannes hjorth

Luigi Pirandello’s If You Say So… sees a neighbourhood questioning the sanity of a man and his mother-in-law who have recently arrived in their community. Watching David Tremain’s production, I soon came to question my own sanity. It was crushed by weak acting, highly questionable direction and a severe lack of polish, together creating a vastly unprofessional and poor quality production.

To start with the positives, Tremain’s performance as Agazzi was enjoyable; his character was believable and appeared well rehearsed. The same can be said of Adam Butler-Rushton’s portrayal of Lamberto, which (though at times slightly irritating) was full of energy and a boyish enthusiasm. His mirror monologue was a highlight. Eloise Poulton’s performance in the role of Signora Frola was comfortable, as was that of Anna Snodgrass in the role of Amalia. Set design was another redeeming feature – it functioned.

However, these positive attributes were far outweighed by the negatives. The majority of the cast’s performances were either decidedly boring or just plain odd. This divide can be seen clearly through their reactions when another character in the scene was talking – half of them would be staring at their feet and the other half would be gasping and nodding along to every word to ridiculous extents. In addition to this, many of the actors had a tendency to put on unidentifiable and incoherent accents, which diverted attention away from their dialogue.

Many of the flaws in the production were the fault of the director David Tremain. It was perhaps his decision to cast himself in a major role that hindered his ability to coax convincing performances out of the rest of the cast. The casting was altogether questionable; putting Zoe Barnes into the male role of Signor Ponza without changing the character’s gender was a confusing decision. The gender swap made no logical sense in itself and the character was unconvincing. More importantly, the ending, which should have been hard-hitting, was completely ruined by the random addition of an extra sketch also by Pirandello. It was like adding a song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the end of a James Bond film – just because it is by the same writer, it does not mean it is relevant.

The production redefined the term tragicomedy – tragic in its failure to produce comedy and comic in its tragic execution. It was a mark of this production’s professionalism, or lack thereof, that the most comedic moment came when a tray of food was dropped during a scene change. All in all, I left the theatre profoundly disappointed, however this should not discourage those involved, as it is necessary to remember that everyone produces bad plays from time to time. And on the plus side, the chairs in the theatre were exceptionally well arranged.