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Inside Move: Beauty of a ‘Beast’ dispute

Berlusconi play adds court date to its run

Nobel-winning Italian playwright and comedian Dario Fo is ruffling feathers with a play about Silvio Berlusconi. And the satirical piece has triggered a libel suit from senator Marcello Dell’Utri, an associate of the Italian media mogul and prime minister.

In “L’Anomalo Bicefalo” (loosely translated as “The Anomalous Two-Headed Beast”) a fictitious Berlusconi character, played by Fo, is implanted with Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s brain following a terrorist attack. Having lost his memory, the media-mogul-turned-politician learns about his past from his wife in unflattering terms.

Fo’s lampoon includes several references to legal issues faced by Dell’Utri — a key figure in Berlusconi’s Fininvest empire and in his Forza Italia political party. Dell’Utri is being probed for alleged Mafia ties, but has always denied links with organized crime.

Dell’Utri is demanding $1.25 million in damages, claiming Fo’s play is a gratuitous attack.

“It’s just caricature,” countered Fo. “Any elements from reality have been widely reported and even written in books. The truth is, this is an attempt to shut us up. But we aren’t going to stop.”

The first hearing in the libel case is scheduled for March 31, in typically Italian time-delayed fashion.

Meanwhile, “Beast” will keep running at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, where it has been playing to full houses, with engagements in other Italian cities to follow. It will also be televised Jan. 23 on Sky Italia’s Planet channel.

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