Only this week: 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist'

By Jeesun Choi

Frame within a frame. Disguise within a disguise. Acting within an act. Shrouded in these layers, action is still as forceful as the bomb exploding the bank; reaction as exact as the constables’ salutes and laugher as freely given as Sports Jacket’s fart. If you have no idea what I am talking about, go see Accidental Death of an Anarchist on Macalester’s Main Stage Theater tonight.
Directed by Beth Cleary, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts & Dance, the show includes seven actors (of which five are freshmen) endeavoring for the best. A farce based on the death of a real person, Giuseppe Pinelli, Accidental Death of an Anarchist probes into the issues of manipulation of the public, historical re-enactment and possibly, the dimwittedness of sanity. Pinelli, who fell (or was thrown?!) from the Milan Police Station, accused of bombing a bank in 1969, is referred to as ‘an anarchist’ in the play, a fictional representation of Italy’s corruption and madness.
The set, designed by Andrea Heilman ’02, is in its primary-color glory with gold frames that tilts the proscenium, red newspaper frame that protrudes into the stage and the wall lit blue to resonate the sky. Heilman, along with three other Macalester graduates, contributed to the costume design, physical theater and video and sound editing.
The performance exudes enough energy to vibrate the skewed proscenium that captures each moment of laugher and thought – and flips everything on its head. The Maniac (William Gambucci) drives everyone insane/sane, tipping the scale between the two with his contradictions. Gambucci consumes and embodies the force that drives the performance forward. The synchronized confusion of the constables’ as well as Bertozzo’s outrage, poke fun at the audience’s smirk at the characters’ helpless denseness.Superintendent’s severity seems to imply that nothing can be too extreme or serious.
And all this is never dead serious. As the Maniac proclaims, what the audience needs is “libratory catharsis of tension”. The space and time to laugh and think, liberated from the weights of politics; if we cannot laugh about it, we certainly cannot talk about it. Sports Jacket and Superintendent precariously hanging onto the window frame, the Maniac tapping the bell with his toes and the Journalist scribbling off the page: these reminds the audience of the necessary sanity that is not too unforgiving of the madness that we all inhibit.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist is on the Main Stage Theater of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, at 7:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday (April 14 – 17) and at 2 p.m. on Sunday (April 18). The opening night, Wednesday April 14 is a “pay as able” event, all proceeds going to Partners in Health for Haitian Earthquake Relief. For ticket information, call 651-696-6359.