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Review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Lyric Hammersmith - An absolute hoot

Updated: Jan 29

Rated 🍯🍯🍯🍯🍯

Curtain call, Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Lyric Hammersmith
Curtain call, Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Lyric Hammersmith

What a riot! Absolute anarchy on stage!

With not even one dull second in the 95 minute run, the show barely gives its audience the time to laugh at one joke before dishing out the next one!

Accidental Death of an Anarchist, originally written by Dario Fo and staged in 1970, is based on a true story that happened in Italy in 1969, when an anarchist railway worker named Giuseppe Pinelli fell (or was pushed) from a fourth-floor window at a police station where he was being interrogated about a bombing that he had nothing to do with. The play revolves around the lies and cover-ups of the police and their attempts to frame innocent people for political crimes they did not commit.

The current adaption additionally touches on a number of contemporary themes including misinformation, propaganda, sexism, racism, privacy and surveillance. But don't be fooled by these serious-sounding themes. The play is an absolutely riotous comedy.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a stellar example of universal humour with laughing moments for even the most grouchy audience members

Never has your faithful Theatre Bee seen such a diverse display of comedic personas all encompassed into one character. Charming quirks. Funny noises. Clever puns. Stupid puns. Clichéd stereotype-based jokes. Intelligent stereotype-based jokes. Absurdist humour. Juvenile humour. Screwball humour. Satirical humour. Ridiculously exaggerated over-the-top slapstick-style hyperactivity. Practical jokes. Deadpan jokes. Dark jokes. Cringe jokes. Panto jokes. You name it!

Dario Fo (original author of Accidental Death of an Anarchist, first staged in 1970) and Tom Basden (writer of the current contemporary adaptation playing at Lyric Hammersmith) together make for a razor-sharp, riveting comedy. Add to that an impeccable delivery by Bafta-winning actor Daniel Rigby who tackles each joke with aplomb, a highly realist set design by Anna Reid and meticulous direction by Daniel Raggett, and you have an absolute riot of a show.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a rare gem of political theatre that uses comedy in a way that forces you to think about important societal issues, and exhibits the amazing power of humour as a weapon against injustice and brutality. The play is both hilarious and absolutely moving — achieving both these effects simultaneously is rare for any piece of writing and it’s not something one can say about a lot of shows.

Five stars.

Watched March 2023 at Lyric Hammersmith, London

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