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Fo's Back 

A tribute to the husband/wife playwriting team of Dario Fo and Franca Rame

Wednesday, Nov 14 2001
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In 1998, a year after Italian playwright Dario Fo won his Nobel Prize in literature, revivals and tributes to the left-wing scribe were all the rage, capped off in the Bay Area by a weeklong Fo Festival. Arguably one of the most produced playwrights in the world, the author of Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Mistero Buffo is not a solo act. He and his wife/creative partner Franca Rame have been a prolific pair for the last 50 years. Borrowing from the traditions of commedia dell'arte, the outspoken duo wear their radical politics on their sleeves, eliciting laughs while tackling injustice, sexism, and a host of other social ills.

A few years later, the hugs and kisses continue. More Fo is Francesca Fanti's one-woman show honoring the 50th anniversary of Fo and Rame's theatrical collaboration. The Italian-born actress has an alluring accent and a hotblooded temperament, and she flaunted them both during her award-winning performance in '98's Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From the Zoo, based on a collection of sketches written by Fo and Rame. In More Fo, Fanti performs two monologues that dissect heterosexual love and women's roles.

In "Coming Home," Fanti plays an overworked wife, frustrated by her asexual relationship with her husband and by the demands of a job and a family. Similarly, "Alice in Wonderless Land" paints a bleak picture of the socialization of young girls into sexual playthings. In Fo and Rame's twisted version of the Lewis Carroll novel, Alice's fall down the rabbit hole leads her into a world of sexually depraved characters much more frightening than the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. Her nightmarish journey leads her from a rejecting Queen of Hearts/ Mother to run-ins with the Monkey and Piglet, who try to entice her into making a porn film. The feminist edge to this version of Alice, a welcome explosion of the "Barbie myth," reminds us that Fo and Rame's collaboration should be lauded for years to come.

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Lisa Hom

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