In 15 Head's production, the giants represent the unconscious, unwashed mass of humanity. They cannot grasp Ilse's art, so they destroy it by literally tearing her apart. The actor's martyrdom is a metaphorical correlative to a Christian being thrown to the lions and dying for the one true faith--in this case, the tenet that art is and must be political. We might forgive such egotism and self-pity in a dying man, but what do we make of Pirandello's repugnant elitism? As the beaten and shamed actors carry Ilse's bloodied body messiahlike from the stage, Cortrone returns to chide "the arrogant slaves to art" who "exclude [them]selves from life at [their] peril." What do we make of any of it? Despite their best efforts, 15 Head leave The Mountain Giants much as they found it: a play in search of meaning.
Eye of the beholder: Countess Ilse (Jaidee Forman) looks for spectators in the grotesque world of 15 Head's The Mountain Giants