I'm not a Pirandello buff, so I don't know this play well enough to say exactly what Rupert Goold and his writing collaborator Ben Power have done to it. They've added a lot of material, particularly at the beginning and the end, so it's now six characters not just on stage but interfering with a TV drama-documentary (or is it a docudrama?) Please don't write on both sides of the paper at once, particularly if you are a media studies student. And don't turn the videocamera on yourself. This is a media-savvy version for media-savvy people, with the action as a series of boxes. Just when you think the last box has been opened, Goold opens another one. I missed his prizewinning production of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart, but I've seen quite a bit of his other work, including The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Faustus. It's an easy temptation to dismiss his work as Too Clever By Half, but I do sometimes wonder whether he ought to ponder the idea that Less Is More. Sometimes simplicity works better in the theatre than complication. Not every good idea has to end up on stage.
The actors are terrific, particularly Ian McDiarmid, Noma Dumezweni and Denise Gough, and so is the design by Miriam Buether, who was responsible for the stunning reinvention of Brecht's Good Person of Szechuan at the Young Vic last year. She also designed The Wonderful World of Dissocia at the Royal Court (a play I hated) and uses some of the same techniques here. I have limited interest in watching plays about the problem of reality and truth in the theatre or on film, just as I don't read novels about people writing novels. It's an area for media obsessives. Give me Stoppard's Real Inspector Hound any day rather than Pirandello. In short, this production was not entirely my cup of tea but next time Goold and Headlong Theatre are in town I shall probably swallow my doubts and buy a ticket.