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Theatre / Accidental Death of an Anarchist

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Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a farce by the Nobel Prize winning playwright Dario Fo.

The play opens with Inspector Bertozzo interrogating The Maniac, a histrionic character, on the first floor of the police station. The Maniac, however, constantly outsmarts the dim-witted Bertozzo and, when Bertozzo leaves the room, intercepts a phone call from Inspector Pissani. The phone call lets the Maniac know that a judge is due at the police station to investigate the interrogation and death of the anarchist. The Maniac decides to impersonate the judge, and successfully does so. He gets the police to re-enact the events, in the actual fourth floor room, and also involves a woman journalist named Feletti who is trying to probe the events. The play ends with two alternative endings, one with Feletti leaving the four policemen to be bombed and in the second, Feletti uncuffs the men who in turn handcuff her to the window frame leaving her to die. The Maniac then leaves the audience to decide what ending is best.


  • Audience Participation: The Maniac invites the audience to choose which ending they prefer.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: What the Anarchist of the title is alleged to have been (which is a lie and subverted: the dirty cops were looking for a scapegoat), and what The Maniac comes across as.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The Anarchist died after "falling" out of the window of the police station where he was being interrogated. Interestingly enough, it was based on Real Life.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: The police claim that the Anarchist either fell out of the window while trying to escape, or threw himself out to commit suicide. Either way, it was most definitely not their fault.
  • Destination Defenestration: The Anarchist somehow fell out of a window during police interrogation. The Maniac and the police go through several reenactments of how this could have happened.
  • Dr. Psych Patient: The Maniac is being interrogated by Inspector Bertozzo in the police station. After he escapes from Bertozzo, he starts pretending to be the judge who is coming to investigate the death of the anarchist. Everyone believes this.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Maniac
  • Eyepatch of Power: The Maniac
  • Farce
  • Glass Eye: A Running Gag involves The Maniac pretending to lose a glass eye (he doesn't actually have a glass eye) and everyone else stopping to look for it.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Initially, it is not clear if the police were attempting this on the anarchist and accidentally dropped him, or if they just deliberately pushed/threw him out the window.
  • The Inspector Is Coming: The Maniac is able to pull off his impersonation because the police are expecting the visit of a judge to investigate the death.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Feletti is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to the Anarchist and will let nothing stand in her way. In one possible ending of the play, this goes quite badly for her.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: As none of the police have met the judge, they are all willing to believe that the Maniac is him.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: The title of the Swedish translation of the play translates as The anarchist who was thrown out of the window by accident.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The Maniac wears an eyepatch despite having two functioning eyes. He pretends to lose a Glass Eye as a distraction several times.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The so-called 'accidental' death of the Anarchist, and the subsequent inquiry into it are what sets the plot in motion.
  • Police Brutality: Which causes the main plot as they apparently interrogated the anarchist so harshly that they actually made him jump from the window. Taken to extreme levels when it is revealed that the Chief personally tortured him and threw him from the window in a fit of anger because he would't confess to the crimes that he didn't commit and they wanted him to force him to.
  • Posthumous Character: The Anarchist of the title is dead at the start of the play, and never actually appears.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The bad ending becomes really bad because the corrupt, murderous policemen thank Feletti for saving their lives by tying her and leaving her for dead.
  • We Need a Distraction: Several times the Maniac distracts the other characters by pretending to lose his (non-existent) Glass Eye and getting them to look for it.