CUPPERS: The Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Wadham)

Wed 7th November 2012


Thea Bradbury

at 09:37 on 10th Nov 2012



Wadham's 'The Accidental Death of an Anarchist' is one of the most fast-paced plays of this year's Cuppers: a dazzling combination of verbal fireworks and intense physicality that both fascinates and dizzies. The action takes place in a Milanese police station shortly after the titular, and allegedly accidental, death of an imprisoned anarchist. The police are determined to avoid being implicated in his death, an enterprise that becomes much more challenging with the arrival of an escaped madman with an astounding gift for mimicry.

The play is highly topical, with its themes of police corruption, cover-up and scandal, and half the fun is in watching events unravel for the hapless officers. The other half is the mocking, gabbling, slyly knowing madman at the centre of events, who tosses out quips faster than the audience can process them, leaps onto tables and embraces his co-stars with manic zeal. If the play has a weakness, it's that the action moves so quickly that it can sometimes be difficult to follow just who's bluffing who. However, the dazzling wordplay and sly innuendo more than make up for any confusion as to what exactly is going on.

Excellent use is made of the long, file-covered table that forms the focal point of the stage. Its papers, which start off pristine and soon end up torn and scattered by police and lunatic alike, form a metaphor for the grubby world of corruption that we're plunged into, whilst the table itself is a literal springboard for the madman's more acrobatic antics. It's exhausting just to watch, but highly rewarding, even if it can sometimes be a little difficult to keep up.


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