Seeing double. Twice the fun for Rob in Chickenshed Theatre's hilarious farce

By Russ Lawrence in Local People

ACTOR Rob Crouch’s latest role couldn’t be more different from his acclaimed portrayal of hell-raising screen star Oliver Reed.

His homage to the legendary boozer in the one-man play Oliver Reed: Wild Thing, which Crouch co-scripted, earned rave reviews.

In Trumpets and Raspberries, which opened at Chickenshed Theatre, in Chase Side, Southgate, last week and runs until Saturday, March 4, he plays dual roles in a hilarious political farce.

Set in Italy in the 1980s, it’s an adaptation of Italian Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo’s satire.

Against the backdrop of the country’s ultra-right-wing politics, the fictional plot revolves around that staple of farce – mistaken identity.

Crouch plays Antonio Berardi, a worker at Turin’s giant Fiat car factory, who rescues boss Gianni Agnelli, a prominent real-life figure in Italian politics at the time, left horribly burned in a car crash following a botched kidnap attempt.

Forced to flee the scene when he is shot at, Antonio leaves his jacket on Agnelli’s body before the wealthy industrialist is carted off to hospital where the authorities assume the badly burned victim is Antonio, one of the kidnappers.

Suffering from amnesia, Agnelli has his face surgically reconstructed using photos supplied by Antonio’s wife before cops interrogate him about the kidnap plot, unaware he is actually the victim of it.

Antonio, meanwhile, goes on the run after discovering he is a suspect, leading to much confusion and chaos because they possess identical faces.

Crouch plays them both and says it’s great fun.

He said: “They are also both archetypes from the Italian Commedia Del Arte tradition – something that is slightly reminiscent of Punch and Judy (and was also referenced heavily in the James Corden vehicle One Man, Two Guvnors).

“This gives the whole thing a broad, clowning spirit that adds to the enjoyment”.

“They are obviously completely different people, though. The worker is a typical working-class hero, a bit of a Del Boy, and there is more than a touch of Donald Trump about the industrialist. “The play explores the relationships between money and government and the power of the individual and the state and feels very relevant today.”

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