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
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.
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.
Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.
Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
Tyrell William’s award-winning, debut play Red Pitch is set on an inner-city football pitch in South London. It is a coming-of-age story, with teenage boys fighting to believe in their dreams, and to find a way up, and perhaps out, of their changing community. The play premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in February 2002, winning several awards, and is currently enjoying a sell-out revival at the Bush.
Tyrell Williams, and the show’s director, Daniel Bailey, join me to explore this joyful and poignant new play.
Photo by Helen Murray.
Martin McDonagh’s 2004 play The Pillowman is an unsettling mix of gruesome fairy tales, child abuse, and murder, overlaid with McDonagh’s signature black humour. McDonagh’s blend of extreme violence and ironic comedy divides opinion, although the popularity of the current revival of the play in London’s West End is testimony to its enduring fascination.
I am joined in this episode by Professor Eamonn Jordan, to help us come to terms with the impact and intent of McDonagh’s work.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has all the ingredients of classic romantic comedy: a magical setting, a merry-go-round of earnest young lovers, a fairy King and Queen, and a troupe of hapless comic actors, all given a supernatural spin in the course of a single moonlit night. But is the dream-like world of the wood outside Athens as benign a place as we imagine?
As we record this episode a new production of the play is part of the Summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, with Michelle Terry giving an outstanding performance as the sardonic sprite Puck.
My guest to help explore Shakespeare’s wondrous ‘visions’ is Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford.