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Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)   
Six Characters in Search 
   of an Author

Based on play by Luigi Pirandello
Adapted by Steve Moulds
Directed by Halena Keys  
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru March 11  |  tickets: $28-$36   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
   Read entire review



Layer of illusion and reality unfold in cerebral, funny exploration


Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)


The Hypocrites presents


Six Characters in Search of an Author

Review by J.H. Palmer

The opening scene of Six Characters in Search of an Author sets the tone for what’s to come: an Actress (Laura McKenzie) runs into the theater in a rushed state of agitation; she is late for tonight’s performance and apologizes for her tardiness as she runs across the stage and joins her cohorts: the Stage Manager (Ryan Walters) and the Director (Brennan Buhl). She explains that she was stuck on public transportation where there’d been delays, and the weather made things worse. It takes a moment for the audience to catch on to what is happening – this is part of the story, and this realization comes to the audience unevenly; the facial expression on the woman seated to my right tells me she hasn’t quite caught on yet, but the look on the man to my left tells me he’s been in on it since the beginning.

Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)
And so the first premise is set – the acting company explains to the audience that we are watching a special rehearsal of The Pirates of Penzance which seems to be getting a shaky start; the Actor (John Taflan), is also tardy to rehearsal and seems not to know what is happening, although he insists he’s “off-book,” and ready to rehearse his scenes with the Actress. Just when things seem to be moving along, the action stops with the arrival of six people dressed in black who appear to be latecomers to the show. They are told to come in and join the audience but remain standing, silent, until one of them says: “We’re seeking an author,” which brings the second premise of the piece to light: these six people are not theatergoers; they are the characters in search of an author referenced in the title of the play.

They are strikingly different in appearance and demeanor from the four members of the theatrical company that we’ve just gotten comfortable with; they are dressed in black, their faces made up to look like ghostly apparitions with dark circles under their eyes, and where the theatrical company is full of madcap energy the six characters have an intense anger and laser-like focus on the task at hand: finding an author to write a play about their lives. The Father (Larry Garner) is paying penance for an offense that takes most of the play to reveal; Samantha Gleisten brings a gut-wrenching vividness to her portrayal of the Mother; Stevi Baston is the voice of truth as the Stepdaughter; and Ted Evans brings an eerie power to his performance as the Son. The two youngest cast members: Michael Milito as Boy, and Ada Gray as Girl have a silent presence that proves to be the unhinging of the family.

Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)
What follows is an exploration of the magic of suspended reality that happens only within the confines of theater, and the excruciatingly painful story of the family dressed in black. The boundaries between artifice and reality are crossed deftly; at one point, during a heated discussion between the characters and the theatrical company regarding the theatrical representation of a biographical story, the Actress says: “its theater, how can it be anything but illusion? The audience processes it as reality.” It took me a moment to digest that bit of dialogue, its double-dipped irony unwrapping itself in my mind. I had grown so attached to the idea of unmoored characters wandering around a theater that I had accepted the illusion of a theatrical company having a discussion with fictional characters in front of an audience.

This piece is by turns funny and devastating, and the final scene is unsettling and thought-provoking. Six Characters is a different kind of theatrical experience; one that will stay with you and make you wonder about the illusions that take place in the everyday theater of your ordinary life.


Rating: ★★★



Six Characters in Search of an Author continues through March 11th at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $28-$35, and are available by phone (773-278-1500) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at  (Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission)

Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)

All photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis 



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