Metta Theatre on Pirandello in a cafe.

Written for What’s On Stage

Artistic directors Poppy Burton-Morgan and William Reynolds started Metta Theatre in 2005, joined in 2009 by producerHeather Doole. Burton-Morgan’s recent credits include the critically acclaimed Gotcha at the Riverside Studios. Past credits with Metta include Otieno, a Zimbabwean reworking ofOthello at the Southwark Playhouse and an immersive production of Blood Wedding.

Luigi Pirandello was an Italian dramatist most famous for Six Characters in Search of an Author. His work, which was often preoccupied with the problem of identity have been seen as a forerunner to the Theatre of the Absurd and led to the writer receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934.

A psychological vignette set in a café, it would be easy to dismiss Metta Theatre’s tour of Pirandello’s The Man With The Flower In His Mouth in cafes around England as gimmicky. It’s harder to do so after director Poppy Burton-Morgan talks you through the process involved “We quite substantially restage it to fit each space and we’ve had to restaged it while there were people sat there having their teas and coffees!” Sounds exhausting I posit “Well it certainly keeps me and the actors on our toes… it’s a two hander so there is a certain flexibility in the shape of it, a certain amount of stretch and give.”

Burton-Morgan is certainly no stranger to pushing the shape of establish texts, often adapting the plays she puts on so she can tell the stories she thinks need to be told. Whilst this may shock purists, her flexible approach has won rave reviews and gives her actors the opportunity to really play with each time being unique “Samuel Collings will do quite different things, he will respond to what’s in the space, in Oxford there’s lots of mirrors so we played with that, in London we slightly changed some of the text to accommodate the chandelier.”

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