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Playwright Dario Fo dies aged 90

Dario Fo, the Nobel prize-winning Italian actor and playwright famed for Accidental Death of an Anarchist, has died at the age of 90.

His death in a Milan hospital earlier today was confirmed by Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who said the country had lost “one of the great protagonists of theatre, culture and the civic life of our country”.

He added: “His satire, his research, his work on set design, his multifaceted artistic activity remain the legacy of a great Italian in the world.”

The son of an amateur actor father, Fo came to international attention in 1970 with Accidental Death of an Anarchist, a caustic satire on the death of a railway worker while under police interrogation. It set the tone for a body of work accented by farce in which topicality and subversive politics went hand in hand.

Together with his wife, the actor Franca Rame (to whom he was married from 1954 until her death in 2013), Fo was a constant thorn in the side of the Italian authorities and his work was often banned and denounced by critics across the political spectrum – including the Vatican.

He wrote more than 80 plays, including Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!, his one-man show Mistero Buffo, Female Parts and Trumpets and Raspberries.

The citation for his Nobel prize for literature in 1997 said: “Fo emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

He had been due to appear at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh [1], last weekend as part of a month-long city-wide celebration of his 90th birthday.

A full obituary will appear in next week’s issue of The Stage.