Theatre | Accidental Death of an Anarchist | Ken Longworth

FALL GUYS: Jared Mainey, Carl Gregory, Theo Rule, Barry Shepherd and Patrick Campbell in Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Photo: Two Tall Theatre
FALL GUYS: Jared Mainey, Carl Gregory, Theo Rule, Barry Shepherd and Patrick Campbell in Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Photo: Two Tall Theatre

WHILE actor Theo Rule is a character called Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, he is actually the most sensible figure in the satirical farce.

Maniac is initially shown being interrogated by a police inspector for having posed as a psychiatrist and admits to having been arrested 11 times previously for false pretences.

But he claims to be an amateur performing artist whose fellow performers need to be “real people who don’t realise that they are in my plays”.

And that is certainly the case in this play, with Maniac purporting to be a judge who has come to a police station to question officers about their roles in what they claim to have been the accidental death of an anarchist they were interrogating when he fell through a fourth-floor window of their building.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist, which is being staged by Two Tall Theatre at Newcastle’s Civic Playhouse from September 21, was written by Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo in 1970, the year after a real anarchist died when he fell from an upper floor of a Milan police station while being questioned about bombing a bank during a robbery.

While the play offended police and politicians and was banned in some places because it questioned public servants’ behaviour, Fo’s subversive humour won him cult status. The play has been staged worldwide, with Fo, who died last year, letting translators and theatre groups change it, particularly the ending. Cheryl Sovechles, who is directing the Two Tall production, said the team have done that, but, understandably, is not revealing the ending.

In addition to Theo Rule, the cast includes Barry Shepherd as Inspector Bertozzi, who is initially seen interrogating Maniac and is repeatedly the butt of jokes, Carl Gregory as a bumbling constable, Jared Mainey as an inspector who is known in this translation by English writer Ed Emery as Sports Jacket because of his clothing and Patrick Campbell as a superintendent who is prepared to do what the “judge” proposes if it will get him out of trouble.

Jema Wright plays Maria Feletti, a probing journalist who wants to reveal the truth about the anarchist’s death.

Theo Rule notes that he’s only offstage for less than a minute during the comedy’s two hour-long halves.

As well as pretending to be a judge, he disguises himself at various points as a forensic expert and a bishop.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist has performances at the Civic Playhouse nightly from Thursday, September 21, to Saturday, September 23, at 8pm, plus an 11am Friday matinee and 2pm Saturday and Sunday shows.

Tickets are $30.60 to $35.70.

Bookings: 4929 1977.