Trumpets and Raspberries

Written by Dario Fo (translated by R.C. Mcavoy & A.M. Giugni)

Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th February and Tuesday 28th February to 4th March 1989

Directed by Jo German

A terrorist attack, a body needing plastic surgery, two men with the same face, a baffled wife, a puzzled girlfriend, and a confused police force are some of the ingredients involved in Dario Fo's hilarious farce 'Trumpets and Raspberries'.

AuthorDario Fo

Dario Fo (b 1926)

Italian playwright Dario Fo is one of the world's most frequently performed living playwrights. His dramatic work employs comedic methods of the ancient Italian commedia dell'arte, a theatrical style popular with the proletarian classes and his writing has often been controversial and subject to censorship or reprisals by the authorities.

Dario Fo was born in San Giano, a small town on Lago Maggiore in the province of Varese. His mother Pina Rota, was a woman of great imagination and talent and his maternal grandfather was also a strong influence; the young Dario spent childhood holidays at his farm in Lomellina. Dario spent his childhood moving from one town to another, as his father's postings were changed at the whim of the railway authorities. In 1940 he moved to Milan (commuting from Luino) to study at the Brera Art Academy. After the war, he studied architecture at the Polytechnic but in 1945 he turned his attention to stage design and theatre decor and begun to improvise monologues.

During his architecture studies and while working as decorator and assistant architect, Dario entertained his friends with tales as tall as those he heard in the lakeside taverns of his childhood. In 1951 he met and married Franca Rame, with whom he has subsequently collaborated many times. In 1953 he wrote and directed a satirical play 'Il dito nell'occhio'. After initial success both government and church authorities censored his work. He later gave up architecture in disgust at the level of corruption he found. He continued to write and produce plays within which he spoke out against state corruption and political scandal and openly criticised the church.

In 1997 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature and he currently owns and operates a theatre company in Italy - one of three that he founded with his wife.

PlayTrumpets and Raspberries

'Trumpets and Raspberries' is a farce with the traditional ingredients of mistaken identity and its hilarious consequences, but it also has a strong political message. It was first performed in 1981, under its original Italian title, Clacson, Trombette e Pernacchi (Claxons, Trumpets and Raspberries).

The fictional plot of this satire revolves around a real political figure, Gianni Agnelli, head of the Fiat corporation from 1966 to 2003. When wealthy Agnelli is disfigured in a failed kidnap attempt, he is rescued by humble Antonio, one of his Fiat employees. Antonio flees the scene when people start shooting at him, leaving his jacket on Agnelli's body. The rich and influential Agnelli is taken to hospital in Antonio's jacket, where he mistakenly has his face reconstructed in the poor Antonio's likeness. Chaotic confusion ensues as Antonio finds himself chief suspect in a kidnap plot against himself.

The Bench Production

Trumpets and Raspberries poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


RosaRobbie Cattermole
AntonioDavid Penrose
AgnelliDavid Penrose
LuciaDebbie Valentine
InspectorVincent Adams
MagistratePeter Corrigan
DoctorNic Moseley
PolicemanAlan Jenkins
PolicemanJohn Valentine
Man with DishwasherSteve Foden
Orderly and Secret AgentJanice Bell
Orderly and Secret AgentPeter Le Feuvre
Orderly and Secret AgentSteve Foden
OrderlyJohn Valentine
Secret AgentRichard Heyburn
Secret AgentNic Moseley


Director Jo German
Stage Manager Pete Codd
Lighting and Sound Jacquie Penrose
Jane Hemsley-Brown
Jim McCarthy
David Hemsley-Brown
Poster Design Charles Payne
Set Design David Penrose
Front of House Terry Cattermole


The NewsEdward Peters

More than comedy

Dario Fo's farce 'Trumpets and Raspberries' is more than mere comedy, and this long play leaves disturbing thoughts about the workings of the establishment. Interwoven with the slapstick - the furniture containing secret agents, the funnel down Agnelli's neck through which he has to be fed, the endless referral to suppositories - is a jabbing political message.

This play is one that will be remembered as one of the profound comments on the 1980s, and the Bench Theatre's performance is one that is well worth seeing. 'Trumpets' runs until March 4th.

The News, 24th February 1989

Production Photographs