Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, June 2023
Photo by Helen Murray
065 – Accidental Death of an Anarchist, by Dario Fo and Franca Rame
Accidental Death of an Anarchist is both an hilarious farce and a biting satire. The original play was written in 1970 by the Italian dramatist Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame, as an artistic “act of intervention” in response to the unlikely death of an anarchist in police custody in Milan. The play became hugely popular around the globe, as a joyously anarchic comedy and as an emblematic artistic protest.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to explore the play on the occasion of a new adaptation being staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, which updates the setting and scandals it exposes to contemporary Britain. The new production is an hilarious and scathing rendition, written by Tom Basden and directed by Daniel Raggett. I’m privileged to be joined by both Tom and Dan to talk about how this play remains so popular and vitally relevant.
You can listen to our review of the show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket here:
The Play Review – Accidental Death of an Anarchist.
Tom Basden is a writer, actor and stand-up comedian. He has been BAFTA nominated four times for his TV writing, credits for which include episodes of Peep Show, Fresh Meat and The Wrong Mans, as well as the sitcoms Here We Go and The Plebs, in which he also starred. As a stage actor he has appeared in Party at the Arts Theatre and in Sydney, Joseph K at the Gate, There is a War (National Theatre), Holes (Edinburgh Festival and the Arcola), and The Crocodile (at Manchester International Festival). As if that is not enough, he has also won an Edinburgh Comedy Award for his stand-up shows.
Tom recommended The Effect by Lucy Prebble.
Daniel Raggett’s recent credits as a director include Noel Coward’s The Vortex at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the Spring of 2023, with real-life mother and son, Lia Williams and Joshua James, playing Coward’s disturbed mother and son. His production of Anna X at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2021 was one of the first theatre events to emerge following the darkness of the pandemic.
Dan has also worked extensively as an Associate Director at the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway, including on shows such as West Side Story and Network.
Dan recommended Dear England by James Graham, and
A Strange Loop by Michael R Jackson.
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Shakespeare’s devastating exploration of race, reputation and jealousy, The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice was a popular success when it was first performed during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but in the centuries since it has provoked a wide range of responses as successive generations have grappled with the racial identity of the eponymous character. As we record this episode a new production of Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London views the play’s treatment of race through a contemporary lens, setting the play within the London Metropolitan police force, a topical environment for racial inspection.
I am privileged to welcome as my guest someone especially qualified to help us navigate the tricky waters of Shakespeare’s play, Farah Karim-Cooper, Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kings College London, and the author of The Great White Bard – Shakespeare, Race and the Future.
Ken Nwosu as Othello and Ralph Davies as Iago
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Photo by Johan Persson
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I am joined by Matthew Dunster, the director of a scintillating new production of the play at the Young Vic in London, who can help us answer those questions about Pinter’s challenging classic.
Lisa Diveney as Ruth at the Young Vic – photo by Dean Chalkley.
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Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, helps us review Ibsen’s unflinching drama.
Hattie Morahan as Helene Alving at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, London, December 2023. Photo by Marc Brenner.