Sunday, 2 January 2011

Recent reads: Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo

Love these lazy summer days (and how, as a migrant from the northern to the southern hemisphere, Christmas heralds the onset of them), and especially love the opportunity to kick back, cook, eat, paint, swim ... and catch up with loads of reading.  It becomes a guilt-free pleasure during the holiday.

Read a couple of plays last week, in preparation for 2011 (and Happy New Year to you, by the way), which I always enjoy as quick reads. The first was Cosi by the Australian playwright Louis Nowra and I was particularly looking forward to this because I'm a big fan of one of his other plays: RadianceCosi is set in a mental institution in 1970 against the backdrop of protests against the Vietnam war, and tells the story of Lewis, who is employed as a director to stage a production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte... with the "help" of the patients.

The other play was an old favourite by the Italian playwright Dario Fo: Accidental Death of an Anarchist. As the blurb to my edition notes, this "is a sharp and hilarious satire on police corruption in Italy ... [and] concerns the case of an anarchist railway worker who, it was claimed , 'fell' to his death from a police headquarters window in 1969."  I don't usually enjoy farce, but this is a major exception.  As plays go, it made such an impact on me that I gave a nod to it in my first novel, The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore.  It's the play Kate Hainley is reading (in Italian) when she meets up with Tom one time in Northampton, but her mood is muddy and so is the river and the sky.

There's nothing muddy about today, and so it's almost time to pour a glass of wine, grab a book and swing in the hammock a while.  Happy reading!


SWUBIRD said...


Except for high school, I don't think I have ever read a play. I certainly didn't read any in college. It's my loss, of course. If only I were more aware in those days, I'd be a heck of a lot more literate these days. Recently, I have been reading Guy de Maupassant. What do yo think of this young author?

Happy trails.

Paul said...

Hi Swubird. Yep, it's always tempting to look back and say: "If only I'd done this or I'd done that", but I also often think that the choices we make suit the person we are at that time. To draw on a cliche, it's all swings and roundabouts, ain't it?

As for Maupassant, I read a volume of his short stories many years ago and remember enjoying the more gritty, down-to-earth ones in particular. Up to that point, all the 19th century short stories I'd read were very middle-class orientated and genteel, I think. His characters seemed so much more darkly real (a bit like Zola, especially with the characters from Germinal).

Happy New Year to you, sir.