Accidental Death of an Anarchist

December 16, 2017

in Plays

Play (1970)
by Dario Fo
Adapted/Translated by Gavin Richards and Gillian Hanna

Directed by James Peter Sotis

Praxis Stage
First Church
Marlborough Street, Boston
November 30 – December 17, 2017

With Alexander Castillo Nunez (The Maniac), Alexandra Smith (The Sergeant), Daniel Boudreau (Bertozzo), Danny Mourino (Pissani), Michael Anderson (The Chief), Tenneh Sillah (Feletti)

Dario Fo

Dario Fo

An intimate account on the now classic comic-surrealistic take on an historic account of the mysterious death of an anarchist held in police custody.

With wryness and wit, Dario Fo’s acerbic comedy begins its dramatic diabtribe with a piece of history. In 1969, in Milan, Italy, a political anarchist, held for questioning about a local series of bombings, falls to his death from a window in police headquarters. How this happened, why it happened, and who was responsible forms the play’s narrative. The vehicle for inquiring into this is the main character, dubbed by Fo The Maniac (Alexander Castillo Nunez) who seeks through a series of inquiries to uncover the truth. As Fo suggests, only a deranged person could come to terms with the greater craziness of a society that purports to be sane.

This production renders, through its own intimacy of scale and its wide variety of improvisations, a contemporary take on the Fo classic. Its depiction of the protagonist is effectively manic and unsettling, which Alexander Castillo Nunez does a fine job of conveying. His insistent lunacy is evident throughout and his portrayal is energetically persuasive. The supporting actors effectively deliver a comprehensive sense of a corner of the world gone mad and provide a template within which The Maniac can unwind his particular form of dialectical magic.

Dario Fo won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997.

The play does go on for awhile and much of the tail end offers a series of intense social critiques that have more of the flavor of discourse than drama. Nonetheless, the production wryly offers its own self-referential quizzicality throughout, so nothing feels entirely out of place, even such a discourse. There are many topical embellishments upon the script making it hard to know where the Fo text ends and the improvisation begins. Nonetheless, it all goes down in one dialectically ironic bundle that bears Fo’s imprint though it embroiders it throughout.

The program contains a delightfully inventive and informative insert which describes the bombing in Milan in December, 1969 that gave rise to the arrest of Giuseppe Pinelli, the anarchist in question. As the document notes, the bombing was later shown to have been done by a neo-Fascist group, not the suspected anarchists. It delineates an the entire series of characters and related events and gives, in addition, a brief but effective account of twentieth century personalities who touched on the anarchist spirit, including Abbie Hoffman, Emma Goldman and Mikhail Bakunin.

– BADMan

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