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Accidental Death of an Anarchist

by Dario Fo

"The cast control the script with great confidence and commitment. Direction by Sophie Brooks and Darian Nelson is sharp and the simple set works well. This is a good opportunity to see such an important text; a thought provoking and entertaining night out..."
Bath Echo

About the play

Adapted by Gavin Richards

Accidental Death of an Anarchist (or Morte accidentale di un anarchico) is probably Fo’s best known work and, since it’s Italian premiere in 1970, has been performed in over 40 countries in languages including Urdu, Sinahalese and Mandarin. The play a farce based on the real-life events concerning Giuseppe Pinelli, a Milanese railway worker who in 1969 was picked up by the police, accused of railway-station bombings and who “fell” out of a fourth-floor window at police HQ (later he was finally absolved from any responsibility for the bombings).Drawing heavily on Commedia Dell Arte, Fo presents the Maniac as a modern interpretation of the Harlequin; a mischievous troublemaker who succeeds in exposing the ridiculous corruption, lies and self-interest that plagues so many authority figures. The target here is the police but it could be any political organisation that does something reprehensible and then struggle to cover it up.

The play opens with Inspector Bertozzo interrogating The Maniac on the third floor of the police station. The Maniac constantly outsmarts the dim-witted Bertozzo and, when Bertozzo leaves the room, intercepts a phone call from Inspector Pissani. The phone call lets the Maniac know that a judge is due at the police station to investigate the interrogation and death of the anarchist. The Maniac decides to impersonate the judge, and successfully does so. He gets the police to re-enact the events, in the actual fourth floor room, and also involves a woman Journalist, Maria Feletti, who is trying to probe the events.


As with much of Fo’s work, there have been numerous adaptations and translations. This version, by Gavin Richards, was filmed and aired by Channel 4 on 23rd December 1985.

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