Theater stage. The primary setting of the stage play is itself a theater stage. On this naked, darkened protruding platform in a theater, actors are rehearsing another Pirandello play, Mixing It Up, until they are interrupted by six people claiming to be dramatic characters hoping to be realized by an author. These six people (Father, Mother, Step-daughter, Son, Boy, and Child) are mystically enshrouded in light, suggesting further the theme of tension between art or illusion and life or reality. These six real personages dressed in black and wishing to relay their tragic stories are contrasted to the stage actors and the play’s manager, who listen to the tale of the Mother who “ran off” with the Father’s secretary and started a new family, only to be left a destitute widow of three offspring and of the Step-daughter, who is fixated in time by a near-incestuous encounter with the Father at Madame Pace’s brothel.
Madame Pace’s shop
Madame Pace’s shop. Attractive women’s shop with a table, racks of women’s cloaks, and hats that in act 2 is a front for procurement. The play’s stage becomes a mental platform on which the Step-daughter and Father insist on reliving their true feelings and actions, much to the chagrin of Leading Lady and Leading Man, who perceive, as artists, their own interpretation as more valid. Audiences must decipher which is more “real”—the never-changing illusion or the universal human tragedy. Readers, too, must examine their own selves in the process and must question their own philosophical-moral-aesthetic beliefs.
Out-of-doors. Location of the third act, which is a naturalistic one with a backdrop of trees with one or two wings and a fountain basin. It can be any time or place. The Child is found drowned in the fountain; the Boy, hiding behind the trees, fires a revolver. The play’s manager-author, like Pirandello the dramatist himself, becomes agitated with conventions and closure and with the uncertainty of reality, shouting: “To hell with it all! Never in my life has such a thing happened to me. I’ve lost a whole day over these people, a whole day!”