Thursday December 14th 2017

“Accidental Death Of An Anarchist”

somewhat recommended  Signal Ensemble Theatre, celebrating its 8th season, has moved into a wonderful space on the north side. This is a space, located at 1802 W. Bernice ( just off Ravenswood) that has been remodeled and made into a comfortable spot to view a play. The lobby is new and the reshaping of the actual theater space is one of great comfort. Congratulations to this growing company. This season is one in which they are exploring unique comedy. The current production, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” is an Italian piece written by Dario Fo with an English translation by Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante, is the story  dealing with a bomb blast and the police capturing a professed anarchist for questioning. While being questioned, he somehow accidentally falls to his death from a 4th floor window. This is based on a story that really took place but with a very satirical viewpoint. The point of this two hours of mayhem is to show just how a government or police department will do whatever they can to keep their shining lights shining.

Directed by Anthony Ingram on a set designed by Melania Lancy, we begin with an officer ( Vincent Lonergan)questioning a man who evidently is a bit looney ( played by the highly energetic Joseph Stearns, who is almost constantly speaking and changing identities). While being somewhat dismissed by the Inspector he finds the files dealing with the investigation from Rome on the matter of this “accidental” death and goes up one floor to take on the one persona that he has yet to play, a Judge. As a judge, he confronts the Inspector ( Anthony Tournis) and Commissioner ( Eric Peskey) who were involved in the interrogation on the alleged night of the alleged accident and convinces them that he is who he purports to be. Meanwhile the two officers who were with him earlier, ( played by Elizabeth Bagby and Christopher M. Walsh) end up in the same room with him and never recognize that he was the madman from the earlier scene. Okay, it’s a satire, so we can let this slide.

What we have is a one man show with the other characters being there to make any of it plausible and the characters become caractures and almost “stooge-like” , with lots of slappings, and kicking as well as falling and crawling. The Madman takes on many different government and police persona’s and even becomes a member of the Church as a reporter ( the lovely  Simone Roos) enters the scene to get to the bottom of what really transpired on that fateful night. As it turns out, the  Madman may not really be mad at all as he does a surprise twist at the end. For those of you who know me or have ever sat in a theater near me, when there is comedy, I can be heard- while there were some very funny spots in this production, I am of the opinion that they did not have enough time to hone their craft at playing for laughs, or perhaps they were trying to hard to get them. They missed the boat with me. I will say , however, that I enjoyed watching the skilled Mr. Stearns pull off his transformations and his ability to play the audience.

“Accidental Death” will continue through March 19th with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are only $20 ( $15 for students and seniors), so for a little more than a movie ticket, you can get to watch live theater, and often comic farce or staire gets better and stronger a sthe actors learn from audience reactions, so it is possible what you will see later in the run will have matured into a more favorable production.

To order your tickets call 773-347-1350 or visit

There is plenty of street parking in the area and the CTA “L” stops at Irving Park- busses nearby-Lincoln Avenue (#11) Irving Park (#80) and Damen (#50).

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