In 1960’s Italy there was a terrible massacre in Milan in which 16 peoples lives were taken due to a bomb explosion in the Agricultural Bank. This tragedy happened on the 12th of December 1969 a few days before Christmas, the attack was blamed on the anarchist community of the times and straight away investigation began. One of the anarchists under question, Giovanni Pinelli was found dead at the base of the police headquarters supposedly having jumped out of the window from the fourth floor to end his own life. The police announced that the suicide was down to Pinelli being convinced that the real culprits to the attack had been fellow members of his anarchist group. So the play is about the investigation into Pinelli’s death and whether it was like the police said, suicide.
Act One, Scene One
The play opens in an ordinary office of the Central Police HQ with dimwitted Bertozzo a middle-aged member of the Italian police force trying to interrogate the maniac. The maniac an eccentric crafty man whose mission is to out smart the police force in any ways possible is doing a good job. The inspector, the constable and Bertozzo are questioning him regarding his 16 counts of impersonation, the maniac claims he has done nothing wrong but already it is quite apparent that he has been up to mischief. He is this time in trouble for impersonating a psychiatrist and has been charging patients humongous sums of money to perform that of what he is incapable of as he is insane himself. He claims he spent 20 years training in 16 different psychiatric hospitals with the best shrinks in the business this in fact was time spent in psychiatric wards being looked after. As Bertozzo reads from his notes the things that the maniac claims to have done the maniac throws it all back with witty comments each time evading the question and making light of the situation making Bertozzo look more and more stupid. Bertozzo starts to lose his temper as he is outsmarted by the maniac he thumps the desk and screams ‘May we get on with this fucking statement’ (this shows one of the key themes of the play I think which is the brutality and tactical play the police will use to any extent to force answers out of there interviewees). He continues to shout and orders the constable, (a gullible push over of a policeman) to cuff the maniac, he attempts this but is threatened with the loss of his pension for restraining a madman.
This threat well researched it seems (I think shows how very clever and prepared the maniac is for anything the police want to throw at him) he also mentions ‘I don’t want to defend. I’m like you, inspector. I like to accuse, convict, judge and pass sentence’. This I think is a reference to later happenings in the text.
The maniac continues to mock Bertozzo showing characteristics of blatant insanity until he is thrown out of the room with his bags.
He soon re-enters the room to find it is empty, he snoops round the desk and decides to empty the contents of the files of minor crimes out of the window chanting happily, he obviously seems to imagine all the these are not important, and that they are also corrupt accusations of the police like his as he says ‘nobody move justice has arrived’ when he finds them. The maniac answers a call from Pissani who rages furiously about Bertozzo, but the maniac makes light of the call more interested in throwing files out of the window, he then rummages through his bag to find himself a new costume. Bertozzo re-enters, and orders maniac to leave immediately, which he does with his bag and coat. An enraged Pissani hits constable at the end of the scene, (this I think again shows the unprofessional stupidity of the police force).
Act one, scene two
Maniac now speaks to Pissani and constable; he is disguised as Professor Marco Maria Malipiero, first councillor of the high court. This immediately asserts a powerful status in the discussion as Pissani is terribly scared and panics, as he wasn’t expecting to be confronted by such a man. This is funny as Pissani who tries to show his power by assaulting Bertozzo in the first scene is put in his place very quickly when faced with the judge. Superintendent enters and shows his anxiety towards the public eye and speaks of how under pressure he feels. The maniac begins to reconstruct the absurd maze of events that supposedly happened revealing (using his own tactics of foolery) to trip up the participants at the occasion of the suicide forcing a different interpretation of what really happened to arise. At one moment which really emphasis’s the true stupidity of the force to such an extent I think its one of the most important parts of the whole play, the maniac almost manages to convince them to jump out of the window in an act of suicide themselves. The scene ends in a obsurd rendition of a Italian song.
Act Two, Scene One
They move on to another version of the supposed accidental death and the maniac challenges every contribution too the story with a overly annalistic crazy interpretation of what the member of staff are saying causing confusion amongst them and things to slip out which hadn’t been mentioned before. Each time getting closer to the point to of the maniac, that it wasn’t as accidental as the police had the public to believe. He uses sarcasm and suggestion to help wean the truth out of the men who integrated Pinelli when talking about the ‘jump’ this forces them to reveal that the constable grabbed his foot as he jumped for the window and his shoe came off in his hand. This proceeds to the maniac telling them all they are in the clear, if he grabbed for the foot of Pinelli then obviously the constable did try to save him. They all congratulate themselves that the case is sorted until the maniac adds that the witness’s of the fall of Pinelli saw that he was wearing two shoes so unless he was ‘triped’ the constable was again lying.
More lies show that even now when the investigation is getting more serious the constable stupid as he is, just try’s to get himself out of the blame. The tensions build high towards the end of the scene when everyone starts to get irritated with the absurdity of the explanations coming from Pissani and the constable the superintendent begins to swear and shout. They receive a phone call from a journalist called Maria Feletti, they all panic and worried about what she might perceive and tell the nation about this conspicuous situation. They agree for the maniac to disguise himself as a forensics scientist to avoid Feletti catching wind of what is going on, this is ironic as they are suggesting the already disguised maniac should change to look like a different character for there benefit still not knowing what’s going on and who they are really talking to even thought they are trained professionals. They even thank him for doing this; he uses more costume parts from thebag he’s been using to keep himself disguised with from the beginning.
Feletti enters the office and immediately begins with accusations to Pissani, this is soon interrupted by the re-entering of the maniac this time dressed in an even more wild costume with a wooden leg. Feletti reveal that a call for the emergency services was made at two minutes to the twelve that day and three minutes after was when he supposedly jumped to his death. They all try to explain the discrepancy using varied ridiculous excuses each contradicting the next Feletti and the maniac give them a grilling in which they point out the obvious faults in there explanation of his suicide. He has bruises on his body, which couldn’t of happened during the fall unless he had tried to stop his impact, which would show that it wasn’t after all an act of suicide and he didn’t want to die. Bertozzo re-enters the scene with a replica of the bomb everyone’s scared as he tosses the bomb in the air when falling over there is in fact no fuse.
They all start to argue and it gets a bit physical again until Feletti continues to question the men. Meanwhile the maniac is fiddling with the bombs insides and has made the bomb live. The rest of them do not know this but Bertozzo notices the maniacs coat and hat on the stand and it clicks that he is the maniac he shouts but nobody else in the room seems to care and they believe he is still the character he’s playing, Bertozzo gets really angry with everyone mocking him so cuffs them all to the window frame. The maniac produces the tape recorder he’d had hidden in his bag the whole time to the rest of the people in room the superintendent orders that Bertozzo should kill the maniac,( this again shows strongly how corrupt the police force was). Bertozzo picks up gun and aims at maniac who suddenly warns him not to bother as he is holding the now live bomb which he says he os going to use the kill them all whilst he escapes. Bertozzo handcuffs himself to the window with his fellow colleagues are maniac give the keys to Feletti and runs off leaving only Feletti now cuffed, she has to make the decision of whether to release them, they all plead and beg persistently until it is too late she runs off leaving them there to die.
There is a black out and the maniac who has now joined the crowd says ‘Oh dio! Whichever way it goes, you see, you’ve got to decide. Goodnight.