‘The Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ opens tonight

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend High School students will perform an Italian satire, “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” throughout November.

The show opens tonight at 7 in the auditorium of the high school, 1500 Van Ness St.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $3 for children younger than 12.

Performances continue at 7 p.m. this Saturday, 2:30 p.m. this Sunday and 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18.

The play is a farce based on the real-life events surrounding Italian railway man and anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli, who fell — or was thrown — to his death from the fourth-floor window of a Milan police station in 1969.

Pinelli was accused of bombing a bank but was later cleared of the charge. The government said Pinelli fell by accident, though widespread public outcry objected.

Dario Fo wrote, directed and starred in the original production in Italy, which opened soon after the incident and played to packed houses for weeks. The show continued amid bomb threats and police intimidation.

Considered a classic of 20th-century theater, it has been performed across the world in more than 40 countries. It is the most internationally recognized play by Fo, who received the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature. Director Jennifer Nielsen said she chose the play for its comedy and relevance.

“Great literature is always relevant, and there are certainly connections one can make to our current political situation,” Nielsen said.

In the play, the police superintendent and inspector, who interrogated the anarchist when he “jumped,” await the investigating judge’s arrival. However, a lunatic escapes and impersonates the judge.

In the Port Townsend High School production, Cece Nielsen will play the maniac and newcomer, and Jackson Wilke will portray the police superintendent and former concentration camp commandant.

Kegean Nordstrom will play the role of Pissani, chief investigator, and Max Stewart will play the bumbling Constable.

Inspector Bertozzo, the department’s bomb and ballistics expert, will be played by Jim Guthrie, a former PTHS teacher who also coordinated set construction.

An inquisitive newspaper reporter, Maria Feletti, will be played by Katherine Eldridge.