BWW Review: ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST at Contemporary Theatre Company
Back in the days before the "improvements" to Route 4 turned Rhode Island's most southern county into a tony bedroom community, it was rural and agricultural, dotted with pristine beaches and fringed in shoreline far quieter than today. It was also special, with an original, artsy, creative-almost magical spirit-personified in places like The Fantastic Umbrella Factory or Peter Pots Pottery.
South County may have changed forever-now with big box stores and McMansion subdivisions, but that creative spirit is still going strong. And it's alive and thriving at the Contemporary Theatre Company (CTC) in Wakefield.
Crafted in the former laundromat that was the long-time home of the Hera Gallery (another legendary South County arts organization), this cozy theatre is tucked away behind Phil's Restaurant, in picture-perfect downtown Wakefield. The theatre's Performance Patio, the setting of CTC's free summer Shakespeare series, overlooks the sleepy Saugatucket River.
Because every one of the 90 seats inside the house is excellent and so close to the stage, humor can feel like private jokes shared between actors and audience, a feature the cast made full use of during a recent production of "Accidental Death of an Anarchist," the 1970 farce by Nobel prize-winning Italian playwright, Dario Fo. Although based on an actual tragic 1969 event, the play is filled with physical comedy and updated to reflect today's political climate. This production is co-directed by Christopher J. Simpson and Ouardane Jouannot
This production featured the utterly adorable Kelly Robertson as The Maniac, a criminal imposter whose dream it is to impersonate a judge. Her character, a man, was brought into the local police station (site of the alleged accidental death of the title) where he turns the tables and takes delight in wreaking havoc on the local police. Robertson brings an infectious energy to the Maniac, who becomes an enthusiastic thorn in the sides of police inspectors played by Witt Tarantino and Riley Cash.
Ryan Sekac brings an intensity to the role of the police superintendent makes you want to come back and see him in something more substantial. Winfield S. Swanson, a master of the artful facial expression, plays both Constable One and Two, each at battle with a red clown nose that just won't stay on. And Christine Pavao portrays the smarty-pants reporter with a precise, speedy articulation that recalls movie journalists of the 1940s.
"Accidental Death of an Anarchist" runs June, 22-24, 29-30 and July 1, 6-8. It's followed by the comedy "One Man, Two Guvnors" and the improvised comedy "Slamming Doors," later in summer. The CTC's free Shakespeare on the Saugatucket series, runs every Wednesday and Sunday in July and Aug at 7 pm. In addition, the CTC presents a popular improv series and a full roster of camps and classes for children and adults- as well as Saturday morning Family shows during July and August. For more information-and to experience some of this South Country magic in person, check out the CTC at contemporarytheatercompany.com
Photo by Seth Jacobsen