Trying to keep up with the ever changing and intense plot of Dario Fo’s fast paced and absurd play can often be a challenge that leaves many productions lagging behind the playwright’s anarchic writing style. Here, however, Hoghead Theatre Company excels in keeping the audience up to speed and immersing us in an insane and often hilarious tale of rebellion against authority.
The production benefits immensely by working with such a brilliant text.
The play concerns a mad man in police custody for impersonating authority figures. Stumbling across the cover-up of an anarchist’s supposed suicide, who died in custody, he decides to have some fun, the madman engaging in layer upon layer of deception with the bumbling policemen. The production benefits immensely by working with such a brilliant text. Foe’s script pops and crackles with wit and clever wordplay with many a joke leaving the audience in stitches. The text is also strangely aware of the mechanics of theatre and in particular its acting; the madman frequently talks to the audience and self-diagnoses himself as being addicted to acting in front of real people, providing a subtle but clever analogy for the strange suspension of disbelief we put ourselves in when we watch theatre. A good script, however, can only flourish on stage when good actors are present, but we have no need to worry here. The cast are well rounded and largely able to pull off the fast jokes and gags with success. The madman unsurprisingly steals the show, playing a number of different characters with ease and bringing the required amount of manic energy to truly bring the role to life on stage.
Unfortunately a few odds and ends lessen the experience. Several times, the quick retorts in the dialogue cause the actors to mumble, stutter or trip over lines. So many of the jokes fall flat. The script itself is not perfect, with an ending that is surprisingly abrupt and leaves you scratching your head slightly, creating an anti-climax for a story that built up a great deal of energy. These issues, however, do not go anywhere near enough to spoil an otherwise very enjoyable hour of manic and energetic comedy that I still recommend you try to see.