Accidental Death of an Anarchist ★★★★★ Theatre Royal Haymarket | Jun 12 - Sep 9, 2023

Playwright, Dario Fo, was a perennial outsider who throughout his career pointedly and perceptively attacked the establishment. His winning of the Nobel prize for literature in 1997 was an irony that he relished as much as it discomfited the people whom he consistently derided. This current version of his classic, Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a brilliant homage to Fo's activism and is replete with the kind of humour that led to the frequent banning or censoring of his work. The story is now based in London, and the target of the satire is not only the Metropolitan Police, but its political masters and the press who collude with it. True to Fo's spirit this version is topical and trenchant. The audience alternates between gales of laughter and gasps of shock at the sharpness of the attacks, but the audience itself comes in for some chiding regarding public complacency in the face of the corruption and injustice of our institutions. Tom Basden has done a masterful job of adapting Fo's work to current circumstances, and director, Daniel Raggett, has created a world that seduces the audience into its absurdity while at the same time exposing distressing current realities. Daniel Rigby is riveting as the imposter who reveals the dark truths of the official investigation while delivering throwaway lines that expose our own flawed justice system. Just as his character beguiles and manipulates the characters in the play, Rigby has the audience in the palm of his hand as he delineates situations that should make us reconsider our own facilely accepted versions of the truth. If we have a quibble with the show, it might be with the acoustics which sometimes make the rapid-fire delivery of the lines difficult to understand. That caveat aside, this must-see production honouring Fo's legacy is replete with laughter and provocation.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Helen Murray

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