Roy Smiles has read Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, if not propped it open on his desk while writing his latest play. A police office with tyrannical boss and thick underling under external investigation, a radical terrorist who tape-records crucial confessions by the filth, some defenestration... sound familiar? Here, the plot hinges around a series of milkman-murders by the not dead at all Italian banker Roberto Calvi in an attempt to maintain his South London incognito. I suspect, though, that Smiles has never seen Fo's farce staged; he sets blocks of farce next to slabs of social comment and lumps of anti-Masonic invective, rather than blending the ingredients so that we laugh and fume at the same time.
Director Gregor Truter can only lubricate the proceedings so far (not least in his own amusing performance as a God-bothered senior cop), but his cast often let him down: we see an Italian Catholic who can't speak her language or cross herself properly, a Calvi who gets the name of his own bank wrong and a police inspector whose bastardy is impeded by frequent line-fluffs. Smiles has this year shown himself to be a writer of talent with Top Of The Town, Buddy Can You Spare A Song? and Schmucks; but Calvi, while observing all the shibboleths, is unlikely to lodge in the memory.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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