Enigmatic Variations 1514
Quest by Gaston
Roles in ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by LUIGI PIRANDELLO are shown around the perimeter; it premiered at TEATRO VALLE in 1921, with some deeming it INCOMPREHENSIBLE.
I would love to tell you that I had either read, studied, seen or acted in ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by Luigi Pirandello, but I’m afraid the reason for choosing it as a theme for an EV was much more prosaic. The play’s title featured in one of those ‘number quizzes’, where you are given the number and a series of initial letters of words that follow it (so in this case 6 CISOAA). I dredged up the answer from somewhere, but resorted to Wiki to find out more. As I’m sure several solvers had to do as well.
The first thing I read was that it had been written in 1921. There hadn’t, I thought, been a date specific EV this year, so I carried on. I then discovered that the six characters were STEPDAUGHTER, FATHER/MOTHER (both 12 letters) and SON/BOY/CHILD which balanced nicely with TEATRO VALLE, the venue for the play’s first performance, to give a 12×13 grid. Thereafter it was reasonably straightforward to place LUIGI and PIRANDELLO in parallel diagonals and complete a satisfying puzzle.
The device of having eight clues containing extra words, each one contributing two consecutive letters to make up the audience reaction (INCOMPREHENSIBLE) actually helped the clueing, as it made some surface readings rather more natural. I might use this in future EVs at some point. Credit must go, though, to the Editor for coming up with the great anagram of unchecked letters, spelling out HALF HELD REGRETS and BOO. Very appropriate.
Favourite clue? I rather liked the misdirection in ‘Tenor breaking into song entrances’ (A-T-RIA), but was especially pleased with ‘Did this footballer move like a duck at Hampden Park?'(HODDLE)
I hope the puzzle was both entertaining and instructive. I enjoyed it, anyway!
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.