Theatre Review

  Abducting Diana Old Fire Station to Sat 1st December


It's no wonder that Dario Fo has the term "controversial" juxtaposed with
his productions. "Abducting Diana," is a performance that dances on the fine
line that separates satire and offense. This fine line is the target for Fo,
creating a revolutionary piece of work that makes people reflect on their
perception of society. Along with this reflective thinking comes the supplement
of humor, thus, Fo's interpretation of meaningful satire.

The production opens with a scene of seduction between two individuals, who
later reveal themselves as Diana Forbes-McKaye and a young man called
"Kevin." Diana is a media icon, owning an empire of publications as well as
the hearts of her readers. During her somewhat masochistic luring of "Kevin,"
three kidnappers invade the scene and abduct her, posing as firemen.

Once the smoke clears, Diana is forced to prove her identity, for she
claimed earlier to "Kevin" that she was a phony, an actress posing as Diana
Forbes-McKaye. Threatening murder to obtain the information, the
kidnappers force her to reveal her true identity.

While holding Diana captive, the kidnappers reveal their true intention for
the kidnapping, which is used as a catalyst for a dissection of the
intentions of the media. The kidnappers serve as grounding humor, showing
true signs of folly and a misunderstanding of the normal purposes of abduction.
Ironically, Diana aids their misinterpretation and helps them plan a series
of events that could possibly create a positive conclusion for both parties.

Rachel Fishwick, who has appeared in twenty shows during her Oxford career,
plays the role of Diana Forbes-McKaye. Her performance exemplifies the archetypal
media junkie, obsessed with the pubic opinion and manipulation. Her
character personifies selfishness, and Fishwick delivers the performance
needed in order to make it believable. She turns her sexual charm on one
minute, and then explodes with callous deceit the next. She represents the
media obsession well; her confidence with her character is well reflected
in her actions onstage.

The kidnappers, Harry Smith, Seline Bullocke, Giles Major and Tom Crowther,
support Dario Fo's vision of media exploitation equally well. Their desire to
obtain "the breakthrough story" is brought to stage in a very convincing
manner. Their combined ignorance of the art of kidnapping helps create a
breath of fresh comedy. All four of the actors remain splendidly in character the
entire time they grace the stage, even when not the focus of the dialogue at a particular moment.
Audience members can look from actor to actor and feel a sense of constant performance.

Although the "media exploitation" theme is a bit redundant in most satirical
productions, "Abducting Diana" includes multiple elements that reinforce
and reinvigorate the idea. Sexual references, feminist issues and the
capitalist agenda are other themes that are referenced throughout
the script. The onstage antics appear racy, but this is all done
with a purpose. The audience are pushed to their limits by the exposure of taboo
occurrences in everyday life. These are used to portray Dario
Fo's understanding of the media, but in the end, we are left to
decide whether this portrayal is purely satirical or a means to create some
media mischief of his own.

Rachael Liberman 27/11/01