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Review: The KTS's Accidental Death of an Anarchist

Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist is too much fun not to see this week at the KTS. And what director Siobhan O’Beirne’s production lacks in conceptual depth, theatrical savvy and technical impressiveness, it makes up in energetic – albeit sometimes sloppy – performances.

Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist is too much fun not to see this week at the KTS. And what director Siobhan O’Beirne’s production lacks in conceptual depth, theatrical savvy and technical impressiveness, it makes up in energetic – albeit sometimes sloppy – performances.
The cast pratfalls their way through the stage and the fascism of Mussolini’s police force. The manic feel, ebulliently orchestrated by Griffin McInnes (as the Maniac) and Patrick Blenkarn (as a strikingly Hitler-esque Superintendent), pervades every corner of the show. Their energy takes the by the collar and runs it at a breakneck pace that all but covers up the plasticity of the blocking and the carelessness of some sections.
The show’s outrageous pacing is contrasted nicely by Michelle Fryzuk’s terrific KTS debut as ‘Maria Felleti’, the straight-shooting, idealistic journalist. Her methodical pace pulls the audience out of the play’s spin cycle allows everybody to catch their breath, even if it’s just for a moment.
As she gets pulled more and more into the hectic whirlwind of the play and away from her prim, proper notions of what journalism is, the audience cannot help but delight in watching a new character get subjected to the mania that both whips the audience into hysterics and marks the play’s manic world.
But keep note: don’t think too hard. Because if you do, you won’t be having any more fun.
The concepts that underpin the show are merely aesthetic and do very little to further any meaningful thematic discussion. For instance, the stage design points to the theme of transparency in fascist Italy. There is no backstage, hidden from sight. Instead, the actors sit, waiting for their cue, against the wall of the theatre. Although an interesting idea, the direction for the actors is to shed their characters and sit waiting, blankly. But it seems like an opportunity wasted, as comedic opportunities present themselves and then recede quickly without coming to fruition. The actors could have sat and waited for their cues anywhere, and their remaining on stage begs the question of why they weren’t involved in the show in some way. After all, in such a zany, hectic show, it felt extremely inconsistent for the actors just to sit, muted and boring, not even interacting with the on-stage ‘stage manager’.
The clouded vision that mapped this play into The Pit frequently and frustratingly allowed for similar thematic inconsistencies. That missing stagecraft comes to the fore in the few, brief unfunny moments that build up to each joke. Infrequent as these moments are, once the quality of the stagecraft is noticed, it cannot be forgotten. Characters go unlit or walk away from their blocking, much to the visible distress of the other characters. A taped line on the floor delineates the setting, which restricts the action of the show. The action craves big, irregular spaces and broad movements, not a small, square space. Only adding to the audience’s frustration is the fact that the rest of the empty, yawning theatre space is still entirely visible but unused.
So go see Accidental Death of an Anarchist and enjoy some hilarious, high-energy theatre. But if you have plans to gain some understanding of fascism or see some tight, well-polished theatre, throw them out the window.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist runs November 10-14. See http://www.thekts.ca for details.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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