Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
Dario Fo’s design, throughout the play, is to activate the audience’s indignation at police and corruption, indignation that creates antipathy for the corrupt superstructure of European capitalism. Firmly entrenched in Marxist political ideology and Brechtian theatrical practice, the play treats the necessity of immediate political action, particularly in the English version, where alternative endings are staged, clarifying the necessity of choice. The newspaper reporter must decide to either let the Maniac go, so that his information can be made public, or unlock the police and ensure her own safety. If the anarchist escapes, she becomes his accomplice. If she unlocks the police, she sides with the politics of oppression. As the Maniac’s last words say, “Oh Dio! Whichever way it goes, you see, you’ve got to decide. Goodnight.” Liberal and radical theorizing about the question amounts to intellectual grandstanding and is disallowed by the play, which opens the motivation and the necessity for action.
In relation to the theme of exposure and choice, the Maniac is the artist/clown whose capability for disguise comments on the “theatrics” of the political situation. In the manner of playwright Luigi Pirandello, Fo’s Maniac calls attention to the theatrical illusion as it is being played, often poking fun at the author as well as satirically shredding the police, the government, and world politics. In this way, he implies that the artist’s...
(The entire section is 484 words.)
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