‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ is a madcap but sharp political farce by the Italian winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature, Dario Fo. Dario Fo was an Italian actor born 40 kms north of Milan in 1926; he died 90 years later in Milan. Dario was a playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter but above all a Communist campaigner. His works were very anti-establishment, ranging from crime coverups to the dishonesty and corruption of big business – even the Pope was worried about this, calling it ‘blasphemous’. A book about sexism, abortion and the Catholic Church soon followed.
However, with his powerful writing he became the recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, but the USA would still not allow him entry.
Translated by Gillian Hanna and Simon Nye, this richly written, finger-pointing play has been considered a classic of 20th-century, being performed in more than forty countries. It also received the Molière Award for Best Playwright. In 1971 after two years of stage production in Italy, where the integrity of the law was a little dubious, the farce was seen by over half a million people.
Go along and see some brilliant acting, the performances by Kalamunda Dramatic Society are at KADS Theatre, 6 Central Mall, Kalamunda until Saturday 21st March; with Midweek $16 Wednesday; Friday $21; Fish ‘n’ Chips Saturday $31 and Sunday Matinée $16 2.00 pm .
The Scene: The third floor of the Central Police Headquarters, Milan in 1970
The set: designed by Peter Neaves is the clue to the genre of the story. Distorted and shambolic. The floor has a black and white chequerboard design, the two black doors and window seem like some dream sequence from a Hitchcock film, with not a right angle in sight. The walls are adorned by Italian political leaders.
There is an old oak desk, a couple of and chairs and some filing cabinets. The view from this third-floor window shows the tops of buildings across the street.
The set, which has the odd surprise, was constructed by Martin Dormand and Peter Bloor, who were assisted in the painting by Christine and David Gribble.
Mark Ramsey’s lighting design included few good ‘effects’ by operators Mark, Susan Henshilwood and Tony Shelsher.
Sound design and smooth operation was by Gabriel Ferrari.
Stagehand Michael Watson took over when the stage manager was called to appear in the play!
A little warning: The play starts at a tremendous rate, the script is very rich and for the first five minutes you sit there wondering what on earth is going on and have I made a mistake in coming to see this play. THEN you realise that this confusion is all part of the story line and that the maniac is not all he appears to be. Once you get in the swing of this unique style, the play becomes more and more enjoyable, with the Second Act being hilarious. It is stupid humour but so very well presented.
The actors intermingle with the audience (no embarrassment). The show is at times presented as a rehearsal with the actual stage manager (Christine Gribble) wandering through the set, as the cast chat informally and the play starts off again in top gear. Yes, this is a play like no other.
A dishevelled prisoner (Peter Neaves) is dragged into the scruffy office of Inspector Bertozzo (Owen Phillips) by a young, eager but simple-minded Constable (Dan Finn). The inspector discovers that the prisoner has several files of criminal history yet has never been charged. The prisoner is known as the Maniac, a brilliant fraudster. At a tremendous rate of knots this maniac can prove finer points of the law that leaves the inspector stunned and without an argument.
Slowly the interrogation turns to what the prisoner wants to know and before long, he is in charge of the questioning. It seems that the maniac had an anarchist friend who a couple of years earlier simply ‘fell’ to his death from a third-floor window of this Police Headquarters. A fact that the police found perfectly normal but left journalist Maria Feletti (Virginia Moore-Price) in grave doubt.
Screams are heard from along the corridor. Bertozzo sends the constable to fetch the Superintendent of Police (David Gribble) and his thug colleague, Inspector Pissani (Lliam Gregory) to meet the maniac.
Talented Director Andrew Watson, who always likes a challenge – succeeded yet again. The selection of the cast was crucial. Andrew bravely chose new actors and a couple with little experience, then he moulded them into their powerful, intriguing and complex characters. The actors, charged and with great chemistry, were required to employ their whole bodies not just a few facial expressions. The script was one of the most complex that I have heard and yet every actor was flawless, even Peter and Owen who were on stage for almost the entire play were amazing. The action was convincing and unrestrained.
A tremendously difficult play to present. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but go on, try something different and have a really good laugh. True theatre quality.