Reflections: Accidental Death of an Anarchist

I got to see Accidental Death of an Anarchist on their opening night. I invited a friend to join me, and we ended up running into other friends on our way into the theater. The energy all around felt serendipitous and chaotic. We pushed our way through the crowd, found our seats, and two other bump ins with art administrative colleagues. After some deep discussion with my friend about her food justice work, the lights began to dim and the policeman on stage gave us the low down on how to behave in the theater. He also happened to be the musician, which made for even more fun expectations for the night!

I have never seen a play by Dario Fo, and I have never seen a performance with so much dynamic physical comedy that manifested in this play by making mundane situations rich with ridicule and comic relief. As a newly certified Laban Movement Analyst, I will first focus on the physicality of the performers. Each character seemed to have embodied certain types of polarities to assist with their comedic timing. If in a moment a character will be yelling at the top of his lungs in a dramatic and even violent manner --- a few beats later you would see him doing a slow motion sprint towards the place. There were characters like the "honey badger" reporter who was the epitome of Vertical Dimension, and she often used Arch-Like Directional Movement to make a point, like when she crossed her legs side to side during an interview with the lunatic. The main character, the lunatic (emphasis on the luna which means moon in Spanish!), favored Sagittal Directional Movements and used the Horizontal Plane to express longing or frustration. He also changed levels when changing characters, and manifested their mannerisms through Modes of Shape Change; favoring Carving into Spoke Like Directional Mode of Shape Change.

The play began a bit crazed and on a high note. This seemed to be a stylistic choice. The most wonderful thing about the performance though (aside from the physical movements) was the freedom for tangents about our current political, economic, racial and sexist crisis in our various communities. The lunatic, knowing he's center stage, takes the position to break the fourth wall and makes the audience reflect upon the subtextual commentaries easily overlooked when dealing with comedy. He recognizes his position of power, he shows us how by putting on a costume your perception of him changes, and most importantly he speaks out about topical issues like poor you if you are a "black kids wearing a hoodie," the government telling women what to do with their bodies, and the myth of democracy. In those few minutes of escaping the script, the actors have us at the edge of our seats thinking about these issues and wondering what else will he say? What other statement can be demonstrated onstage?

This is why I love theater. I saw the performance again this past Thursday, and noticed that the spontaneous things I saw on opening night were still present --- but in a different way. Some lines changed, some actions delivered differently, and some audience members who just did not get the irony of it all. In the end, this is why I love theater.  It's unpredictable and humanizing. I wonder what others were thinking as they walked out the doors?

Click here to learn more about the show!

Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Adapted by Gavin Richards from a translation by Gillian Hanna
Directed by Christopher Bayes
A co-production with Yale Repertory Theatre
Main Season · Roda Theatre
March 7–April 20, 2014
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

By Dario Fo