Nobel-winning playwright Dario Fo dies aged 90

Italian Nobel Prize winning playwright and actor famous for his cutting political satires dies in Milan

Dario Fo
Dario Fo

The Nobel prize-winning playwright and actor Dario Fo has died aged 90.

Fo, famous his cutting political satire in plays such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, won the Nobel prize for literature in 1997. He had been suffering lung problems for months and had been in hospital for 12 days.

Fo was also known for Mistero Buffo, a one-man play he travelled the world with for 30 years.

His plays often starred his actress wife Franca Rame.

Born in March 1926 in San Giano, a small town on Lake Maggiore, Fo learned the art of storytelling from his grandfather, a travelling salesman with a gift for spinning yarns.

He was conscripted towards the end of World War II but managed to escape, spending the last months of the war hidden in an attic.

Moving to Milan, Fo studied architecture before turning to writing and performing.

After meeting Rame in the early 1950s, he achieved success with a series of monologues that led to his own show on Italian national radio.

After establishing the Fo-Rame theatre company in 1957, Fo and his wife earned national recognition with a series of hit stage farces.

But their work, often critical of the political establishment, led to battles with the censors and attempts at suppression.

His subversive humour won him a cult status, but also saw him periodically hounded off stage and television in an attempt by the Italian establishment to muzzle him.

He stirred controversy with his 1969 work Mistero Buffo, a retelling of the Christian gospels in an improvised format. Controversy over his work led to him being banned by Italian state broadcaster Rai for 14 years and refused a visa to the US.

In 2005, he announced his intentions to run formayor of Milan but failed to win the primaries organised by the centre-left Partito Democratico.

He maintained his political commitment past his 90th birthday, enthusiastically endorsing the maverick Five-Star Movement and comparing its anarchic, foul-mouthed founder Beppe Grillo to one of the heroes of his own chaotic comedies.