Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Review of 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' by Janice White

'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' at the Lace Market Theatre, 3-8 October 2011

Leaving the theatre after Accidental Death of an Anarchist I walked down Halifax Place with an elderly couple. I asked if they had enjoyed the show. The old gentleman replied quickly 'Oh it was very well done. Excellent acting,' thus my own opinion ... 'BUT(Why is there so often a 'but'?), that sort of pure Marxism is very dangerous - especially at this time.' I reassured him that there were not enough people in the audience to start a riot. Until we parted he reiterated his concerns in deadly serious fashion to the consternation of his wife. What an endorsement!

Sooo ... the show was a spectacular success then, Andy! Except it didn't play to full houses. Shame on those who opted out of the latest Lace Market triumph. You missed one of the funniest, nay hysterical, farces we have ever staged. Chris Ireson, as Maniac, gave a master class in the full range of comedic technique with vocal and body language encompassing every nuance possible. As they plotted cover-up after cover-up of the anarchist's final hours, a fully supportive cast contributed lively caricatures of clownish buffoonery in keeping with the traditions of commedia dell'arte.

Mark James' set was a properly utilitarian 1960s Police HQ in Milan, the sombre grey office harshly lit with very white light, unnatural and hard edged, creating an exaggerated sense of reality which evoked a soulless institution. Researching the real crime which inspired Dario Fo's play, Mark pointed the crime scene as a high white framed window among four rows of red, set sufficiently downstage to allow 'the chase', lit from above, to be pantomimed behind. Rose Dudley (lighting) and Gareth Morris (sound - or sometimes lack of it), combined to create a feeling of discomfort in an audience complicit in the crime. Typical was the opening when the initial blackout was cut by a brilliant shaft of white light as the office door opened and Bertozzo entered to self-consciously preen himself in complete silence.

Congratulations to Andy Taylor for crafting a gem of a performance in which the audience was drawn mercilessly into the action. Its message is as relevant now as it was in 1970s Italy: power, politics and corruption are natural bedfellows unless we are eternally vigilant.

Janice White

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