History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Italian Post-WWII
Dario Fo (1926-?) is the most visible representative of end-of-century Italian theatre, featuring such black comedies as "Morte accidentale di un anarchico" (Accidental death of an anarchist, 1970). His comedies are characterized by a mixture of popular and more serious theatre. Eduardo de Filippo (1900-1984) reaches dramatic heights with "Il sindaco del rione sanita" (The local authority, 1960) about a man serving as the unofficial judge of legal or ethical conflicts.
"Accidental death of an anarchist"
"Accidental death of an anarchist". Time: 1970s. Place: Milan, Italy.
A madman is interrogated by Police Commissioner Bertozzo for impersonating a psychiatrist. He explains he has taken on several other roles in the past, calling his condition "histriomania". When Bertozzo leaves his office for a moment, the madman identifies himself over the telephone as the commissioner's colleague the and gives him misleading information about Bertozzo. As a result, the caller comes over to the police station and hits Bertozzo. The madman next takes on the role of a counsellor sent to investigate the suicide of a presumed anarchist by a fall from a window. The false counsellor interrogates a second commissioner and a prefect. He determines that the two men told the anarchist they had proof of his guilt when they had not and that they had lied to the media about the results of the interrogation. He tells them that the ministry of justice and the interior has suspended them. He utters desperate remarks on their situation while pushing them towards the window, then admits that the report is false. He next determines that the two men had untruthfully told the anarchist they had evidence that an acquaintance of his had engaged in other acts of terrorism. To lessen suspicions of guilt, the madman tries to make them admit that they encouraged him to reveal himself by tapping him in a friendly way on the shoulder, by saying anarchy will not die, and by singing left-wing songs. In investigating the actual suicide act, a police officer reveals that to prevent his death from falling he held on to his shoe so that it came off, but the madman points out that on the victim's body both shoes were on. A woman journalist is announced to conduct an interview on this matter. To help out the two men, the madman dons yet another disguise, this time as a colleague of theirs working in the police laboratory. The reporter determines that since no damage was found on the anarchist's hands, he was probably unconscious or dead before his fall. She next determines that the ambulance was suspiciously called before eye-witnesses saw him fall. It seems that the anarchist received a blow on the head after being told that the evidence presented by witnesses of his alibi was inadmissible. Commissioner Bertozzo returns and recognizes the madman disguised as his laboratory officer, but his colleagues try to shut him up. The madman next identifies himself to the reporter as a distinguished bishop sent to investigate the matter. To quiet Bertozzo, he injects him with a sedative. When Bertozzo takes out a revolver to defend himself, the madman tricks him into dropping it and then takes out a tape recorder with all the evidence he needs to expose both men.
"The local authority". Time: 1960s. Place: Naples and surrounding regions.
"The local authority" text at ?
Palummiello has just been shot by Nait for having attempted to steal from him his job and is being treated late at night by Dr Fabio Della Ragione. During the same night, Antonio Barracano's wife, Armida, was attacked by one of their dogs and conducted at a hospital by one of their sons. At the age of sixty-four, Fabio is tired of his job and consequently wishes to immigrate to America. However, he is dissuaded from doing after being warned by Antonio, who needs him to dispense medical treatment just as he himself dispenses justice as the local authority. Indeed, men in the region are in the habit of consulting the respected 75-year old man instead of relying on the police and the judicial system, which is the case of Vicienzo and Pasquale. Vicienzo borrowed money from Pasquale at an exorbitant interest rate so that he can no longer pay the principal. Antonio's judgment is that Pasquale, having obtained more than the principal, should pretend having received his money and forget about it, to which he agrees without protest. Antonio next handles the case of Palummiello and Nait. He lightly blames the former for trespassing to a new territory but blames more harshly the latter for not having consulted him before this happening, slapping him in the face for good measure. Antonio next hears the case of Rafiluccio, a man intent on killing his own father, Arturo, a baker, who will no longer have anything to do with him. Antonio suspends his judgment on this more complex case. He first resolves the question on whether the dog who bit his wife should be shot, concluding that, being trained as a watchdog, his wife is to blame for feeding chickens in the early morning hours. When Arturo arrives, he explains that his son is shiftless and lazy and so useless in his business. Having separated his property in three parts to his progeny in his lifetime, Antonio blames him for being so unfeeling towards a son, but without result. Since he is also unable to dissuade Rafiluccio from his purpose, he heads towards Arturo's shop and is stabbed in the spleen for his pains. "I had my pistol," Antonio explains To Fabio, "but I thought of my sons. If I shoot now, I thought, the chains of killings will stretch our to infinity." Instead, he invites the two along with others to supper and pretends that Arturo gave over to his son a large sum of money, to which Arturo submits. But when Antonio dies, Fabio reveals the plot, indifferent to the likelihood of impending massacres. "Perhaps destruction on this scale will pave the way for a different world," he avers, "a world that will have lost some of its gloss but will be that much fairer."