Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo and Franca Rame adapted by Tom Basden. The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London W6 to 8 April 2023. 5*****. William Russell.

This scintillating and devastating up dating by TomBasden. a co-production with Sheffield Theatres, of the Fo and Rame satire deserves to draw the town for far longer than this engagement in Hammersmith. It has a performance from Daniel Rigby as the Maniac who bursts in on the fourth floor office of the policeman from the window of which the apparently small anarchist managed to fall while being interrogated, bursting with energy as he takes the audience into his confidence – the fourth wall does not exist – and proves quite simply breath-taking. He gets impeccable support from the rest of the cast who fall for his assortment of disguises, fight among themselves to ensure nobody gets blamed for the death – or at least if somebody must it is not them – and makes all the bull’s eye points one could wish on the state of policing in Britain today, not least at the Met. It had the audience on its feet at the end – this happens quite a lot nowadays but usually it is just friends of the cast doing the decent thing. Not so at the press night. It was genuine not friendship. Director Daniel Raggett keeps the action swirling round the office at the breakneck speed this sort of farce requires and Rigby’s command of the physical action adds to the mix – watch him try to get down from the table top onto which he has somehow found himself, one foot extended at a time as he seeks for a safe place and marvel at his skill with the prat fall. Meanwhile the police are baffled by the people he pretends to be – are they facing an accuser, is he really a judge presiding over the inquiry into the death, are they being lined up for promotion? At the end the statistic for deaths in police custody are projected on the walls. This is very much a play for today. It is not quite the play Fo and Rame wrote all those years ago but the intention now is the same as it was then.

Constable Joseph: Shane David-Joseph.

Superintendant Curry: Tony Gardiner.

Detective Daisy: Jordan Metcalfe.

The Maniac: Daniel Rigby.

Fi Phelan/ Constable Jackson: Ruby Thomas.

Inspector Burton: Howard Ward.

Director: Daniel Raggett.

Set & Costume Design: Anna Reid.

Lighting Design: Jai Morjaria.

Sound Design & Composition: Annie May Fletcher.

Fight Direction: Kenan Ali.

Production photography: Helen Murray.

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