by Jamie Bains
Director Raj Chand states in the production’s programme ‘I wanted to direct something that would impact the audience, perhaps even spark a debate.’ There wasn’t many a better choice for both cast and crowd than Dario Fo’s 1969 political farce ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’.
The show follows a clumsy and corrupt police force in 1960s Italy in their attempts to explain and manipulate the suspicious death of an anarchist railway worker who was held in custody. We meet the humourously named Maniac, a shamelessly and openly insane figure who secretly records the events and misgivings of the hapless police in their criminal activity, transpiring with the destruction of the police station and Maniac asking the audience’s preference with the final events of the chaos in two separate endings, questioning the individual and social implications each conclusion holds.
Clearly, this is not a simple performance to execute. It required diligent conviction within a tense political atmosphere. However, Act One gave a memorable performance which offered a beautiful blend of political satire, social commentary and sharp humour to deliver a fantastic showing.
Aaron Devine’s depiction of Maniac was standout – a shameless, versatile and flawless performance which provided much of the night’s best laughs, backed up by a brilliant and convincing cast who each provided unforgettable moments of comedy and political satire.
Additional praise goes to the additions to the script – references to the low costume and stage budget were welcome and witty inclusions. It could be argued that, given the political background of the production, more real-life references could have been inserted, particularly given the current lecturer strikes within the university and the wider political issues of today.
Though, this is a minor detail. Act One’s production is one to take immense pride from. Offering laughs and cutting social comment, they have triumphantly tackled one of the most complex and challenging shows of the 20th century with effortless skill and conviction.