Accidental Death of an Anarchist
By David A. Rosenberg
If many of the performers in Dario Fo’s “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” look familiar, it’s because they’ve worked together before at Yale Rep. That was in “The Servant of Two Masters” and “The Doctor in Spite of Himself.”
Many people laughed.
Now they’re back to using that same commedia dell’arte style, led by the endearing antics of Steven Epp. Obviously, they and director Christopher Bayes pride themselves on their skills, plunging head first into incidents surrounding the true story of a railway worker arrested in the 1969 bombing of a Milan bank.
It was while in detention that the suspect fell or was pushed from the police station’s fourth floor. Details about the death were never fully known or admitted to. In Fo’s play, the truth is ferreted out by Maniac (Epp), a man who declares himself “a lunatic, a certified psychotic.”
The didactic, collegiate evening is best described as “meta,” commenting on itself, as in the Maniac’s “my theater is the theater of reality so my fellow actors must be real people, unaware that they are acting” and “I’m about to play a music cue on the bass.” Maniac is obviously the only sane person around, finally finding the truth, ending in a preaching-to-the-choir screed on Mitt Romney, one-percenters, the NRA and Walmart, among others, which might have worked better if the setting were changed from Italy to the U.S. Besides, nothing grows staler faster than contemporary politics.
At one point the Maniac says, “Your stories lack the tiniest vestige of humanity. No warmth. No laughter. No remorse. No poetry. Show a human heart.” Amen.