Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

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Tom Basden

Tom Basden

Tom Basden

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’s acclaimed adaptation of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist enjoyed triumphant runs at Sheffield Theatres, the Lyric Hammersmith and the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Photo by David Bennett

Recommended Play(s)

Tom recommended The Effect by Lucy Prebble.

 

 

 

 

 

065 – Accidental Death of an Anarchist, by Dario Fo and Franca Rame

065 – Accidental Death of an Anarchist, by Dario Fo and Franca Rame

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

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.

Recommended Play

Tom recommended The Effect by Lucy Prebble.

Photo by David Bennett

Daniel Raggett

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.

Recommended Play

Dan recommended Dear England by James Graham, and
A Strange Loop by Michael R Jackson.

Photo by Helen Murray

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076 – Othello, by William Shakespeare

076 – Othello, by William Shakespeare

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.

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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Photo by Johan Persson

075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter’s disturbing exploration of toxic masculinity and sexual maneuvering, The Homecoming premiered in 1965. The play’s portrait of misogyny, and even more disturbing, the apparent female complicity, was shocking at the time it was written. Nearly 60 years on the sexual politics is if anything even more difficult to watch. So what was Pinter’s purpose in presenting such a provocative piece, and how do we process it in the post Me-Too age?

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.

074 – Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen

074 – Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen’s dark family drama Ghosts provoked outrage when it was published in 1881, its treatment of sexual disease, incest and euthanasia too much for the critics. More than 140 years later its portrait of repressed truths and social hypocrisy remains as powerful as ever.

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.