Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Written by Dario Fo
Hackney Empire, London
Until 9 December
Dario Fo’s most famous play has become a classic. It combines wit and slapstick comedy with a devastating and chilling critique of the abuse of institutional power.
It deals with the death in a police station of anarchist rail worker Giuseppe Pinelli after he was arrested for a terrorrist bombing in 1969 that killed 16 people. In fact the bombing had been carried out by fascists. The play is even more relevant after Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
The brilliance of the play is that it manages to be hilarious and yet never forgets the horror of the events it concerns.
The play is extremely difficult to do well, and very easy to do excruciatingly badly. The Italian traditions of farce and commedia del’arte demand great visual humour, rapid-fire but totally assured dialogue, and the ability to involve the audience.
This production is an excellent introduction to a great work, and its one or two weaknesses at first showing will have gone by the time you see it.
Written by Andrew Taylor and Desmond O’Connor
Pleasance Theatre, London
Until 12 November
This satirical musical is inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and the security paranoia created by George Bush and Tony Blair’s “war on terror”.
Joseph King, a US air-conditioning salesman to the Middle East, is picked up by the CIA and MI5 and locked up without being charged or given access to a lawyer. His grip on reality, and his relationship, fall apart as he undergoes questioning.
The music and the performances from the cast, some of them playing a number of roles, are excellent. Failed States is an interesting and entertaining musical.