Richard Hamburger

Bravo for anarchy at the Dallas Theater Center

By Mark Lowry / Star-Telegram

DALLAS - Nobel Prize-winning Italian writer Dario Fo has a bit of “anarchist” is his blood, but because his barbs are unleashed through brilliantly constructed words, we prefer to call him “satirist.”

Over the years he has taken shots at numerous authority figures, including the most sacred of cows, the Pope. You could analyze his best-known work Accidental Death of an Anarchist for months, drawing parallels to such current hot topics as President Bush’s foreign policy, capital punishment and Guantanamo Bay detainees held without legal counsel.

But I dare you to see Dallas Theater Center’s staging of Anarchist without laughing your rigatoni off. This is easily the funniest production on a local stage in years.

A co-production with Pittsburgh Public Theatre, where it plays in March, this Anarchist is a new translation by Ron Jenkins, who works in such topical references as “mad cow” and “shock and awe.” Jenkins took a cue from reports of the event that spurred Fo to write the play: an anarchist “falls” from a fifth-story window during a police interrogation. Was it suicide (and thus self-incrimination) or a case of frustrated police unable to secure a confession?

The play is a circus, and only the best acts are on the bill. Ringmaster Richard Hamburger has assembled a fabulous cast who handle the slapstick physical comedy and whirleybird wordplay effortlessly. As the impersonation-crazed Maniac, Robert Dorfman proves himself a comic genuis. He deftly takes on the character’s Marx Brothers-style comedy (the look and physical work is Harpo, the verbal dexterity and wink-wink sarcasm is Groucho), and his prologue is priceless.

Fans of Fort Worth’s Stage West must see this for Jerry Russell at his comic best as the Commissioner. Rounding out the brilliant ensemble is Craig Bockhorn as the Deputy Police Chief; Sean Runnette as the Inspector; Mary Bacon as the Journalist; and Doug Jackson and Marcus Neely as officers. Props to costumer Linda Cho for appropriately garish ‘70s Italian threads.

But none of this would have come together so well without Hamburger’s impressive directorial gifts. He keeps your mind jogging and your side splitting, even after the curtain falls.

© Richard Hamburger, Theater Director      Site design and maintenance by Amy Lacy.