site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Box Theatre Company - Accidental Death of an Anarchist

25th to 28th January 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Boxing clever

Box Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist, at New Greenham Arts, from Wednesday, January 25th to Saturday, January 28th

Dario Fo is in the news this week for his bid to become Mayor of Milan – putting him at the heart of the political scene that he pilloried in his best-known play Accidental Death of an Anarchist. The Box Theatre Company production was set in an amalgam of Italy and Britain, indicated by the red, white and green Union Jack on the wall, suggesting that issues of police corruption and political cover ups are as relevant in Britain today as they were in Italy in the 60s.

The play is an unlikely combination of political comment and farce. Comedies with a serious point to make usually separate the comedy from the serious bits, but here everything is combined. This makes it easy to watch it just as a farce, and at this level it works well. But the story is based on an actual event, where an anarchist ‘accidentally’ fell out of a police station window, and the Big Brother implications give it a disconcerting edge. (Was this the reason for bringing in a reference to George Galloway?!)

The play’s success depends on the dominant central character of ‘the Maniac’, who has to adopt a variety of different personas, and this was a tour de force from Neal Murray. From the start he runs rings round the luckless Inspector Bertozzo (Tracey Donnelly), then takes on Inspector Window-Straddler (Laura Hamblin) and the Superintendent (Paul Isherwood), culminating in a hilarious sing-song of the Clash’s White Riot at the end of Act 1.

Things become even wilder in Act 2 when the Maniac’s impersonation of a forensic scientist becomes a combination of Dr Strangelove and Inspector Clouseau. Neal Murray’s comic ability and timing are excellent, and he is helped by a strong cast, including Ian Murray as the policemen and Adelina Miller as the journalist, playing the bumbling characters that the Maniac can manipulate.

On the political side, other productions of this play have taken the opportunity to make the audience uncomfortable by introducing modern references to political events, but director Gavin Slaughter did not do this, concentrating instead on delivering the fast pace that the farce needs. Another polished and enjoyable production from Box.