Pros: Hilariously funny and well-acted across the board.
Cons: Gets off to a slightly slow start as the audience gets to grips with the humour.
It’s not an effort I’d normally put into seeing a play. However, I encourage all of you to make the trek as soon as possible – Trumpets and Raspberries is absolutely worth the journey. It’s electric, side-splittingly funny, and has the audience (and its main character) in stitches throughout.
Trumpets and Raspberries is a tremendous tour-de-force about mistaken identity that exposes a divided society and provides an excellent study of class divides and the removal of power. It is set in 1970s Italy but feels worryingly relevant in modern society. There’s a nice nod to this in the women’s modern Essex accents.
It is a great script and, although the play is a little slow to come to life whilst the audience adjusts to its farcical nature, it doesn’t take long for the actors involved to break into their stride.
There is a comedic master class on show here. Rob Crouch as both Antonio and Agnelli is outstanding. He is very physical in his comedy and he brings both roles to life with tremendous energy and aplomb. Belinda McGuirk as Rosa (Antonio’s estranged wife) is absolutely stunning; her energy never wavers (an impressive task, given Rosa’s relentless activity) and she shines in the excellent second act. Oh, she is good!
Lauren Cambridge is perfectly cast as Lucia, the young, stubborn girlfriend of Antonio – and brings a blast of sharp energy to every scene. Watching the strange but lovely friendship blossoming between her and Rosa is a joy.
The staging is excellent in every facet. The use of plastic around the theatre walls encloses us all in the bubble of the performance. The multiple doors and Crouch’s incredible backstage switcheroos are wonderful – the audience is rooting for Crouch every time he turns up, more and more dishevelled.
Similarly, the chorus cast does a wonderful job in bringing subtle intonations to the performance. Their rhythmic and organised turn as medical staff gives the performance a 1984-ish feeling of being swept away in a powerful system. Their role as secret agents feels odd in the context of the show, but they bring their characters to life in a wonderfully funny way.
The ending doesn’t feel as strong as the absolutely outstanding second act, which is a shame as it really should be the climax of the entire play. In some ways, the bang it should go out with feels more like a whimper.
Having said that, this performance really does soar for so many reasons. Crouch gives a masterclass in side-splittingly funny physical humour. McGuirk is electric, energetic and faultlessly funny. Together, a talented team of actors bring this absurd comedy of errors to a majestic life. Get yourself on the Piccadilly Line immediately – you really must see this!
Author: Dario Fo
Directed By: Lou Stein
Box Office: 0208 292 9222
Booking Link: http://www.chickenshed.org.uk/trumpet
Booking Until: 4 March 2017