Theatre Review: Trumpets and Raspberries, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

26 Apr

Trumpets and Raspberries

Following my review of the play, Mhairi MacLeod gives her view of the Lyceum’s Trumpets and Raspberries.

There often comes a time during a crisis where you can either laugh or cry. Thankfully Tony Cownie and co save audiences from the latter with a very Scottish translation of Trumpets and Raspberries, Dario Fo’s famous farce that brings credit crunches, terrorism and corrupt arms deals to the fore while putting any accompanying woes firmly on the back burner.

The story begins in Edinburgh in 2011 following a car crash during the attempted kidnapping of Fiat industrialist Sir John Lamb. Witnessing the smash, Fiat worker Tony Brodie (played by Jimmy Chisholm who also plays the “new” Sir John) pulls the now “squashy featured” Lamb to safety, gives him his jacket and bundles him into an ambulance.

But as a professor (Steven McNicoll) explains the intricacies of facial reconstruction to Tony’s estranged wife Rosa (Kathryn Howden), things aren’t quite as they seem as a serious case of mistaken identity ensues.

Cownie’s solidly, sure-footed production fits perfectly into Ken Harrison’s set that begins slick and simplistic in a futuristic hospital ward before becoming colourfully claustrophobic as the action moves to Rosa’s socialist supporting livingroom.

This is a show crammed full of Scottish comic vim that drives the piece along at such pace it would give a Fiat Cinquecento a run for its money. Chisholm’s showing is worth the ticket price alone, seeming completely buoyant in a demanding role as he deftly contrasts Lamb with Brodie.

Howden also excels as the unwitting, burly battle-axe Rosa whose loyalty to Tony after adultery and supposed facial reconstruction is touching yet farcical in itself. While there are moments where the pace begins to lag, wave upon wave of comic capering ensures the action doesn’t stay in the same place for long.

Boasting enough tram gags to tide the locals over ’til panto season, this is a production that also manages to satirise the wider state of British politics. Blair, Brown, Iraq and BAE all make an appearance while the play’s original discussion of whether society values industrialists over politicians remains topical with terrorism rarely far from media or mind.

So if you’re wondering how to spend the last few pennies Alistair Darling’s left you, why not wander down to the Lyceum and laugh the pain away.

Review by Mhairi MacLeod

Full details of prices and times are available on the Lyceum website.

Photo copyright Alan McCredie

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