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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Virtuous Burglar by Dario Fo


Genre: Comedy, Drama

Venue: Assembly Rooms


Low Down

Frantic frolics as a burglar ends up with rather more company than he bargained for on his latest shopping trip.


The Virtuous Burglar is one of Dario Fo’s best known farces. A satire of bourgeois hypocrisy, this take on it is set in 1950’s London and deals with the consequences of a burglary start starts out badly and just goes downhill from there on.

The burglar (played by Alex Hughes) breaks into the flat of a well to do man (James Owen). But whilst he is “at work”, his wife (Camilla Corbett) rings him – no not on his mobile, remember this is the 1950’s – and nags him as only a wife can nag a husband.  Then, to make matters worse, the owner returns unexpectedly, bringing with him his lover (Amy McIntyre).
Thank heavens for grandfather clocks – always great places for burglars to hide. But something is wrong with the clock and the constant chiming gives our concealed burglar a headache, forcing him out of hiding. Out of the blue, the man’s wife (Kate Terence) shows, leaving the man to persuade the burglar to pretend to be married to his lover so his wife doesn’t think anything amiss. 
Are you following this? Well that’s the simple bit dealt with. Wife of burglar then shows up at the flat followed soon after by husband of man’s lover (Alex Britton) who turns out to be lover of man’s wife. Still with me?
Six characters locked in a flat that they would each prefer not to be in are tangled in a web of marital intrigue that would take quite a few spiders to spin. Throw in some thwarted passion, a collapsing sofa and more extraneous bonging from that clock and you have the ingredients for a romp of the first order.
Farce works if you get the timing right, no-one falls over the furniture and the props behave themselves. The words almost don’t matter, it’s the physical frolics that are important and generate the laughs. And the burglar’s carefully crafted entrance certainly captured the imagination of one very young audience member, who was chuckling away before a word had been uttered. That got the rest of the audience in the mood and the performance was on a roll from then on in. A good piece of theatre, nicely produced.