Anarchist Giovanni Pinelli died in Italian police custody in 1969. Nobel laureate Dario Fo’s play draws upon official police transcripts to expose the ludicrous inconsistencies that they contain. An escaped madman serves as the primary investigator, manipulating various officials into inadvertently confessing their complicity in the anarchist’s death. Next Theatre’s whip-smart production features Defiant Theatre co-founder Joe Foust in this pivotal role, and his frenetic performance perfectly suits Fo’s anarchic script. Foust’s agile slapstick and relentless verbal assault upon the hapless policemen invest Fo’s analysis with a bristling energy. Director Linda Gillum (also a Defiant alum) keeps Foust and the rest of the comically savvy cast in constant motion. Though the remarkable parallels between the Italian case and our contemporary acquiescence to torture and extraordinary rendition are only hinted at, the play’s dark relevance to George Bush’s America remains clear. It also provides a brilliant example of a political theatre that offers stinging critique without becoming preachy. (John Beer)
“Accidental Death of an Anarchist” plays at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, (847)475-1875 x2, through May 27.