Dario Fo's classic farce Accidental Death of an Anarchist was a sensation when it premiered in Italy in 1970. Based on the story of a political activist who "fell" to his death from the window of a police station, the original production was seen by over half a million people. This incisive satire on police corruption, media manipulation and political shenanigans premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, London, translated by Simon Nye.
CAST INCLUDED: Rhys ifans, Paul Ritter, Desmond Barrit, Mark Healy, Adrian Scarborough.
It's so funny, resistance is futile… the production generates crackling comic energy. This is a performance of prolific invention and astonishing energy that often left me helpless with laughter. There is no doubt that Accidental Death of an Anarchist is that rare thing, a political farce that is genuinely funny while also making a serious political point.
Accidental Death of and Anarchist abseils into the Donmar Warehouse packed with enough contemporary pop culture references and brio to give a potentially dated and exhausting script a newly nutty lease on life.
In his day, Fo must himself have been influenced by Joe Orton, whose subversiveness “Accidental Death” most recalls in a prolonged sequence during which a bishop blesses the assembled police with water from a nearby fire extinguisher. That event is soon followed by an interruption to the spiralling mayhem allowing the company to join voices on “God Save the Queen.” Such Royalist sentiments don’t count for much as a climactic explosion sends Simon Higlett’s carefully appointed set crashing down, closing the door on a play with limited patience for anything that includes words like “safe."
Fo's play absorbs social indignation into mainstream Italian comedy.