Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Accidental Death of an Anarchist - Fo (96)

(Finally, right?  It took a while to track this down, but, oh, what a joy it was to read!)

The prologue to the play helpfully tells us about a bit of Italian history from 1969.  A bomb exploded at an Agricultural Bank in Milan, killing sixteen people.  The police questioned an anarchist and after some time he went out of a fourth story window.  The official story is that he jumped.  This story takes place not long after.
It opens on a man simply called The Fool, who is being questioned by an inspector.  The Fool a) has a long habit of impersonating people and b) has spent time in several mental institutions.  He is incredibly fast talking and before long the inspector chases him out.  The Fool sneaks back in and takes a phone call in which he learns that a judge is coming to speak to the officers about the death of the anarchist.  He seizes this chance to make mischief and decides to impersonate the judge.
The Fool then speaks to the Chief of police and some officers.  He convinces them that he will try and improve their rather thin story but he has to learn the true facts.  Bit by bit we learn what really happened.  After some time a young lady journalist comes in.  The Fool adopts a different disguise and continues to injure the situation for the police.  So on and so on until the explosive ending.

I loved this play.  It was like a cross between a dirty cop show and a Marx Brothers movie.  In fact, the Fool must have some Groucho, Chico and Harpo in his DNA.  This role would be an absolute joy to play.
The politics of the play ground it very much in the Italy of its time.  It involves police corruption and an attempt to scapegoat leftists, anarchists and communists for violent acts.  I know next to nothing about the history of that period but the play isn't shy with its accusations.
The script I was reading was translated in the 80's and had been updated for an American audience.  This meant sneers about the 'actor in the White House' that really felt tacked on to the story.  This is something of a quibble.  I hope that if the play is reproduced in some kind of classic story that they won't try to keep 'updating' it.  As I said, that's a quibble.  I really did love it.

Next up, we get back on schedule with #92, 'The Rover' by Aphra Behn.

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