Accidental Death of an Anarchist

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

24/08/2006 - 02/09/2006

Production Details

By Dario Fo
Directed by Gordon Brough

The Globe Theatre is excited to present one of the most significant international plays of the 20th Century by Italian Dramatist and political identity Dario Fo. Fo lives in Milan with his wife and theatrical collaborator Franca Rama who this year was elected as a senator in the Italian government. Dario Fo was given a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997. The translation (2003) being used is by British playwright Simon Nye, best known for his TV comedy work such as “Men Behaving Badly”.

The combination of writer and translator produces a hilarious but telling work. The play is founded upon certain true historic events that are referred to in the play. In 1969 a certain man with anarchic beliefs (Guiseppe Pinelli) was arrested on suspicion of having planted a bomb in Milan that killed 16 people. Pinelli was held for three days without seeing a judge. Just before midnight on December 15th Pinelli was seen to fall to his death from the fourth floor of the Milan Police Station with the question remaining as to whether he jumped or was thrown. Later enquiries showed that he was innocent of the bombing. Two years later the officer in charge of the arrest (Calabresi) was assassinated.

Into this political morass Dario Fo introduces a “lunatic” (in some translations a clown) with an “acting Mania”. The lunatic shows up the corruption and deceit of the police and administration with farce and slapstick situations providing great entertainment and perhaps some deeper considerations.

Maniac                        Bill Needs
Inspector                    Sam McAnally
Superintendent           David Manley
Constable                    Malcolm Lay
Bertozzo                      Don Knewstubb
Journalist                    Beverley Reid

Stage, Lighting Design           David Manley
& set construction                  Sam McAnally
Technical Operator                Matthew Kilsby-Halliday
Costume                                 Jane McCabe
                                                Leigh Paterson
Stage Manager                       John Campbell
Production Manager              Gretchen Kivell
Production Assistant              Alison Embleton
Publicity                                  Roslyn Nijenhuis
Photography                           Reg Graham
Front of House                       Murray Robertson

Theatre ,

Classic and modern, Italian and British, serious and crazy

Review by Barbara Frame 04th Sep 2006

The Anarchist’s real name was Guiseppi Pinelli, and in 1969 he fell to his death from the fourth floor of the police station in Milan. Although the historical event was sombre, Dario Fo’s 1970 farce about its subsequent investigation is one of the twentieth century’s funniest plays.

The Globe’s production of The Accidental Death of an Anarchist, directed by Gordon Brough, uses Simon Nye’s 2003 translation, which brings the play more or less up to date: it’s classic and modern, Italian and British, serious and crazy.

The action takes place in a police station where the officers are engaged mainly in inventing cover stories for their own crimes, which include defenestration. They are invaded, first by a madman who of course is smarter than everyone else put together, and then by a determined journalist on a convoluted and impossible search for something like the truth. Withering satire combines devastatingly with Marx-Brothers-like mayhem.

Last night’s performance took a while to catch fire, but by the second act the pace had picked up and the audience, when not participating in the play itself – on an entirely voluntary basis – was in stitches. Performances varied: the best came from William Needs, dazzlingly lunatic as the Maniac; David Manley, whose experience showed in his fast-paced portrayal of the corrupt but not quite sufficiently wily Inspector, and Beverley Reid as the charming and gorgeous journalist.

Relevant in 2006? Of course: for "anarchist" substitute "terrorist," and think about bombs, official denials of the truth, interference with free speech – you’ll get the picture. Better still, hurry along to the Globe before 2 September and reflect on the sorry state of the world while laughing yourself silly. There were about 20 people there last night, doing just that.

The production is dedicated to Patric Carey, the theatre’s co-founder, who died on Wednesday [23 August 2006].


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