The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
September 14, 15, 16 & 17, 2016
Accidental Death of an Anarchist
by Dario Fo
David Peaty – Bertozzo
Emily Hale – Superintendent
Guy Steddon – Pissani
Jonathan Rich – Constable
Phil Brown – Maniac
Sarah Frost – Felletti
Stage Manager – Dave Comber
Deputy Stage Manager – Julian Batstone
Assistant Stage Manager – John Garland
Lighting Design & Operator – Martin Oakley
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Sound Operation – Brian Jones
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Cherry Fraser
Properties & Set Dressing – Anita Shipton
Properties & Set Dressing – Di Tidzer
Set Construction & Painting – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Construction & Painting – Carl Gray
Set Construction & Painting – David Comber
Set Construction & Painting – Dave Collis
Set Construction & Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Construction & Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Construction & Painting – Margaret Davy
Set Construction & Painting – Gary Walker
Poster Design – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Peter Joyce
Publicity – Maggi Pierce
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Judith Berrill
Front of House – Tor Dunster
Programme Note #1: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
DD wrote: ” Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a play with a very precise context, namely in response to a specific event in the turbulent Italy of the late 60s. What relevance if any could this hold for a British audience in 2016?
The overarching themes of the play, that of police brutality and cover-up and a political power at odds with the people resonate widely and indeed the lay has been performed all over the world.
The brilliance of the play is that it turns tragedy into farce and as such audiences find themselves laughing and ten asking themselves why.
I first did a production of this play 24 years ago in the Edinburgh festival. The timing felt right, we had recently had riots in Trafalgar Square over the poll tax, miscarriages of justice for the Birmingham six and the Guildford four. There was outrage at police cover-up and unfairness of the treatment of the poor and as an angry young man in my 20s I found the play had a lot that I could relate to.
Now as a not so angry young man in my 40s I find, unfortunately, this is still the case. ”
Publicity #1: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 8 issue – page 51
Text Header: “Wick Theatre Company revive classic stage farce”
What is the truth when a railway worker dies at a police HQ? Did he fall or was he pushed? Come and find out at the Barn Theatre where Wick Theatre Company perform Dario Fo’s comic masterpiece Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
Spokeswoman Judith Berrill said: “The play is an hilarious satire, based on real-life events. Railwayman and anarchist Guiseppe Pinelli fell – or was thrown – to his death from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969. He was being questioned at the time about a bombing incident in which many were killed. Finally, after his death, he was cleared of any involvement.
The action starts quietly enough in the office of this same police station. An inquiry into the railwayman affair has found it to be an accident – not suicide as claimed – and more questions are about to be asked. Meanwhile a very peculiar and slightly sinister, visitor arrives and chaos ensues. Then, to make matter even worse, an investigative journalist comes to cover the story.
Jonathan Rich who plays the Constable in this production knows a thing or two about police drama having been a script writer for many years on The Bill. He did however reflect that the characters he wrote for were somewhat different in motivation to the corrupt and inept police portrayed by Fo. As a new Wick member Jonathan says he is really enjoying working on such a great play and can appreciate the fine script by performing rather than writing!”
Dan Dryer first directed this play 24 years ago at the Edinburgh Festival. He recalls: “The timing felt right. We had riots in Trafalgar Square over the poll tax, miscarriages of justice for the Birmingham six and the Guildford four. There was outrage at police cover-up and unfairness of the treatment of the poor, and as an angry young man in my 20s I found the play had lot that I could relate to. Now as a not-so-angry-young man in my 40s I find, unfortunately, this is still the case.”
Judith added: “In its first two years of production Dario Fo’s controversial farce was seen by over half a million people. It has since been performed all over the world and is considered to be a modern classic. Sharp, fast-moving political farce to intrigue and entertain you, it’s going to be a real sizzler!”
Performances run from Wednesday to Saturday, September 14-17 September [sic] 2016 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick. Curtain up is at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £11 from the box office on 001273 597094 or through the website www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Publicity #2: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 15 issue – page 50
Text Header: “Back on the boards with celebrated farce”
Jonathan Rich finds out this week whether he can still do it when he takes to the stage with the Wick Theatre Company for Dario Fo’s comic masterpiece Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.
“I had acted at university and then a bit afterwards. And then I got the itch. I live in Southwick. I had seen their productions and thought them of a very high standard and I just started wondering whether I still could. I did a bit in my 20s, but it has been 35 years since the last time now. The Barn are a wonderful team. I wondered if I still had the legs, if I still had the memory! I emailed them and went through the committee, and they said yes, come to the auditions. I was really nervous, and I was thinking that probably nothing would happen, but then [director] Dan [Dryer] gave me the part of the constable. It’s one of the smallest parts, but I am on stage pretty much all the time. In terms of reward, if there were a ration of lines learned to benefits and enjoyment, this one would be really hard to beat! ”
The play asks: What is the truth when a railway worker dies at a police HQ? Did he fall or was he pushed? The play is the chance to find out, an hilarious satire, based on real-life events. Railwayman and anarchist Guiseppe Pinelli fell – or was thrown – to his death from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969. He was being questioned at the time about a bombing incident in which many were killed. Finally, after his death, he was cleared of any involvement.
Rehearsals have been great, but now Jonathan is desperate to put it all in front of an audience: ” There is something about rehearsing a comedy where you just reach the point were you need an audience. We have had members of the stage crew come in and it has been great to hear them laugh, but you just want to get it out there.”
Part of the challenge for Jonathan is to play so comprehensively against type. He sees himself more the slightly-geeky academic type. He has been called to play a brutal and stupid policeman: “Everyone on stage is being grilled about their part in the incident, and I have to say that I tried to stop this anarchist from throwing himself out of the window and that when I tried, his shoe came off in my hand. But not even that is true because the body of the anarchist actually still had two shoes on!”
It is a far cry from the policemen Jonathan wrote about during his years writing for The Bill: I know we were trying to write about decent, honest coppers trying their best. There is nothing of that here. And being cast against type, I have to admit that for the first few weeks I struggled because it is not exactly about character and motivations. You have to act, but there is not a lot of subtlety! The idea of playing someone completely unlike me in a way I am not used to was very daunting, but I have really enjoyed it.”
Wednesday to Saturday, September 14-17 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick. 7.45pm. Tickets on 01273 597094.
Review #1: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 22 issue – page 6
Reviewer: James Butler
Text Header: “Sanity goes out the window in fast-paced political satire”
What does Miss Piggy, the Chattanooga Choo Choo and a wooden leg have in common? Not much, but in this play that is sort of the point. And Wick Theatre Company made the most of their creative liberty in this production.
On the surface, Accidental Death of an Anarchist seems to be about just that – the real-life death of a man who fell from a fourth-floor window at police headquarters in Milan in 1969. But the fictional version spun by playwright Dario Fo uses it as a platform to poke fun at police corruption by turning authority on its head. The inmates have the keys to the asylum – or rather one inmate, affectionately known as the Maniac, who masquerades as a high court judge that is investigating whether police were to blame for the anarchist’s death.
The whole play is a vehicle for this character and its needs an actor with razor-sharp timing to prevent it getting bogged down in political jargon. And that is what we got with leading man Phil Brown. It was not a perfect performance, with a few stumbles over words – but it was still a very impressive success rate given the speed and clarity of his delivery, the wordiness of the lines and the fact that he spoke at least two-thirds of the dialogue.
The ethos of ‘no small parts, only small actors’ is particularly relevant with this play but the rest of the cast stood tall. The hard-nosed journalist, the fascist police boss, the anxious inspector and the bumbling policeman – all were given distinct personalities.
The loose structure of the play, in which the cast come out of character to discuss the production, was well-used by the company, with modern references worked into the piece – hence the Maniac’s impersonation of Kermit the Frog’s ex-wife. But the added satirical commentary about the state of Britain today tipped from satire into rant territory.
The physicality of the play was well-handled, and the climax, which asks the audience to choose the ending they prefer, was thought provoking. It also showed off a surprise element of the set, which made for a dramatic finale.
It’s not an easy play to watch – but go with the flow and it should have you laughing like a madman.
Review #2: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: September 14 2016
Reviewer: Philip Noble
The message of this play is as relevant today as it was when it was first performed in the 1960’s – assisted by the incorporation of current events into the dialogue. It pokes fun at a team of incompetent police offers while exposing their contempt for the rule of law.
The action is loosely based on the unexplained death of an anarchist in custody at a Milan Police [sic] while being interrogated by four police officers. The official explanation of what happened was that the prisoner managed to cross the room to a window, open it and leap to his death without anyone being able to stop him.
The officers are tricked into taking part in a recreation of the fateful events by a madcap prisoner with a knack for impersonation, with disastrous consequences for everyone.
Phil Brown is excellent as the maniac while Jonathan Rich conjures memories of Fulton Mackay of Porridge fame with his characterisation of the rather dim constable. The portrayal of the remaining characters is feisty, imaginative and original. The stage design and lighting outstanding.
One is left asking the question: was this a comedy, a tragedy or just a good old fashioned scandal?