THE DEVIL IN DRAG
[ “Il Diavolo con le Zinne” ]
by Dario Fo
translated and adapted by Ed Emery
For all queries regarding performance rights, please contact
Agenzia Tolnay : info [@] tolnayagency.it
For all queries regarding the text, please contact the translator at:
Original text copyright © Dario Fo
Translation copyright © Ed Emery
[The Performance Text]
First performed on 7 August 1997 at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Messina, Sicily.
[As indicated below, if necessary the characters in this play can all be performed by a total of twelve actors.]
Pizzocca Ganassa, housekeeper to Judge Alfonso de Tristano.
Cardinal Ambone and Intruder / Father Mirone / Crewman on galley.
Francipante, a Master Devil / Prosecuting lawyer / Follower of Father Mirone / Helmsman of galley.
Barlocco, an apprentice Devil / Prosecuting lawyer / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II) / Prisoner on galley.
Jacoba Stareffa, lover of the Captain of the Guard / Townswoman / Follower of Father Mirone / She-Devil (in Act II).
Zoanna, a young serving girl / Operator of the puppet of the Devil Barlocco / Woman possessed by devil / Townswoman / She-Devil.
Clarissa, a young serving girl / Operator of the puppet of the Devil Barlocco / Townswoman / Follower of Father Mirone / She-Devil.
Young servant / Acrobat stand-in for Pizzocca / Townswoman / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II).
Geron de la Noci, a thief / Inquisitor / Francipante’s double / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II) / Prisoner on galley.
Acrobat stand-in for Judge / Musician / Operator of the puppet of the Devil Barlocco / Man of the town / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II) / Prisoner on galley.
First Guard / Blacksmith / Devil / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II) / Prisoner on galley.
Second Guard / Follower of Father Mirone / Devil (in Act II) / Prisoner on galley.
The action takes place in a city in Central Northern Italy at the end of the sixteenth century.
The stage setting represents a classic Renaissance stage. Where possible it will have five levels of wings moving back in perspective, and two traversing arcades emerging from the second and fourth wings. As the curtains open we find ourselves on a terrace at the top of a stately building. At each side of the proscenium are two small balustrades to indicate the limits of the terrace.
As the lights come up, or the curtain opens, we find a musician on-stage playing a lute. Three GIRLS, ZOANNA, CLARISSA AND SIMONA bring in a step-ladder and a large basket. They take out sheets and linen which they hang at the back of the stage, to dry in a slight breeze. As they do this, they sing quietly, and their song provides a gentle background to PIZZOCCA’s opening speech:
From between the hanging sheets, enter PIZZOCCA, serving maid and housekeeper to JUDGE ALFONSO DE TRISTANO. She is as dry as a stick, and walks with strange movements like an ostrich. She adjusts her costume as she comes.
PIZZOCCA: [She notices the audience] Oh lord – the ladies and gentlemen are here already! [To the wings] Why didn't you warn me? [To the audience] Good evening, welcome, welcome ladies and gentlemen... It looks like it falls to me to open the proceedings, so first allow me to present myself. My name is Pizzocca Ganassa, and I am the ruler, that's to say the housekeeper, in the house of his Honour the Judge, one of the most notable men in this city... who lives right here... in this palace... his Honour Alfonso Ferdinando de Tristano! You should know that my master is a terribly serious man. Not that he hasn’t got a sense of humour – I myself have seen him laugh – once. But more to the point, he’s terrifically intelligent! He's got a brain... such a brain... that when he thinks... [Raising her hands she mimes wheels going round in her head] Brrrr brrrrr... it makes a noise!
ZOANNA: Yes, yes... [Making a similar gesture] Brrrrrrrr! The house even shakes!
PIZZOCCA: Don't make fun of me, you! [To the audience] As I was saying, he's really intelligent! And he's also terribly brave and honest! He bows to nobody. But as you know, in this city, intelligent, brave and honest judges have a hard time of it... Just as they're on the point of uncovering the misdeeds of wrongdoers and murderers, the first thing that happens is that out come the gossip-mongers... who scurry about... spreading rumours and slander. And then they blow them up! They kill them! But my Judge stops for nothing and nobody! I'll give you an example... You will have heard of the fire at the city's Cathedral, which happened the other week...
Exit one of the three SERVING GIRLS.
ZOANNA: [Interrupting her] Oh yes! What a disaster... A huge blaze, and the Captain of the Guard was burned alive!
CLARISSA: Yes, the Captain of the Guard... Imagine it! Up in the sacristy, in the sacrestan's bedroom, making love with a woman, and her running off with the flames coming out of her backside!
PIZZOCCA: Oh yes? Ran off with flames coming out of her bum?! Imagine how many men running behind her to put out the fire! [She chuckles amusedly. The two SERVING GIRLS sit down to listen, one on the trunk and the other on the floor] That's enough laughing! A man is dead, here! Anyway, this Judge of ours calls an inquiry... and listen to the intelligence of the man: in order to find out who started the fire, he has his guards going round the streets by the Cathedral picking up horse-shit!
ZOANNA: Why on earth would he do that?
PIZZOCCA: Because he's a mathematical genius, that’s why. In the course of his investigation he discovered that a big statue had disappeared from the cathedral – the statue of St George on horseback killing the dragon, which is covered in gold-leaf and worth a fortune... But in the ashes of the burned cathedral there was no sign of any gold... Not a bit! So the Judge concluded: "They've stolen it!" But who had stolen it? What kind of cart would have been needed to carry away a statue as big as that? And what kind of horse would have pulled the cart? As the proverb says: “When a horse is straining with a big cart, it shits mountains!” So what does he do? He tells the city guards to gather up all the horse dung they can find in the streets around the cathedral, and bring it to the Courtroom immediately! Such a scene, you'd die laughing: all the guards going round on all fours picking up horse shit... "This one's cold... No... This one's quite warm... Alright, take it to the Judge."
ZOANNA: So what was he going to do with all this dung?
PIZZOCCA: I’ll tell you... In the courtroom, he had all the dung spread out on a big table, all labelled to say where it came from. The stink was deadly! The Judge sent for a blacksmith, and he told him:
JUDGE: I want you to examine all this dung. Sniff it, feel it, even eat a bit if you have to... But tell me which of them was dropped by a heavy-duty horse.
FARRIER: This one, for sure. This comes from a big draught-horse. You can tell by the consistency – strong-smelling and rich! If this shite was found...
JUDGE: Would you mind calling it dung?
FARRIER: Yes sir. If this shite-dung was found on the road to Santa Margherita, then I’ve an idea where you might find the horse!
PIZZOCCA: No sooner said than done. The guards went off with the blacksmith, and they found the horse at the Grande Cascina dei Biss. And there, in the hay barn, lo and behold, a big cart, and on it the statue of St George and the Dragon!
ZOANNA: Oh, the intelligence of the man!
CLARISSA: What an amazing mind!
The two SERVING GIRLS pull on the clothes line and raise the sheets to reveal the next scene. Then they move to one side of the stage. Trumpets sound.
We find ourselves in the main Courtroom
On stage are the JUDGE, a PROSECUTING LAWYER, the PRISON WARDER, GUARDS, WITNESSES and MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.
JUDGE: Silence! What is this, a henhouse or a court of law? Bring in the farmer, the owner of the shire horse.
Enter GERON DE LE NOCI, between two GUARDS. He is limping visibly.
FIRST GUARD: [Cuffing him from behind] And you can stop the play-acting with the limping. Walk properly!
JUDGE: What has happened to you?
SECOND GUARD: [Matter-of-fact] We stretched him on the rack, sir. And then we had to singe him a bit... as per usual.
JUDGE: As per usual?!
SECOND GUARD: Yes, and then, quick as a flash, he confessed!
A murmuring among the crowd.
JUDGE: [Indignantly] I will not have torture in any court of mine! Next time you’ll be under arrest yourselves. [To the PRISONER] What's your name?
GERON DE LE NOCI: Geron de le Noci.
JUDGE: [Leaning forward in his seat to look into his face] Did they hurt you a lot, stretching you on the rack?
GERON DE LE NOCI: Yes, your Honour, hurt me terribly... All cracked up!
JUDGE: And did they use fire?
GERON DE LE NOCI: Burned me right up my back, your Honour!
JUDGE: Hmmm. The court needs to know, was it you who stole the golden statue of St George?
GERON DE LE NOCI: No, sir... I swear it, by all that is holy!
JUDGE: Listen to me, Geron de le Noci... as you will have noticed, I will not tolerate in my jurisdiction the disgrace of people torturing Christians. But don't you go forcing me to hand you over to these brutes. I want you to tell me the truth. Now, repeat after me: "It was me who stole the statue!"
GERON DE LE NOCI: [With emphasis] It was me who stole the statue!
JUDGE: [Leaning back] Oh well done! Now, did you steal it on your own account, or did someone else put you up to it?
GERON DE LE NOCI: It wasn’t for me... I stole it for a gentleman... he gave me a purse of two hundred florins in advance.
JUDGE: And what was his name? Who is this gentleman...?
GERON DE LE NOCI: I don't know his name.
JUDGE: I suppose he appeared to you in a dream...
GERON DE LE NOCI: No... He turned up at my hut with the horse... and with his face masked.
JUDGE: And did he also pay you to set fire to the Cathedral?
GERON DE LE NOCI: No, nobody said anything about fire, and I swear, it wasn't me who did it!
A GUARD hands the JUDGE a "bautta" mask.
JUDGE: The mask that the gentleman was wearing, was it perhaps a "bautta", like this?
A dress-maker's dummy is brought on-stage. The various items are placed on it one by one.
GERON DE LE NOCI: Yes, the very one!
JUDGE: [As above] And was he wearing this kind of hat?
GERON DE LE NOCI: Exactly!
The GUARD passes a cloak, which the JUDGE waves under the nose of GERON DE LE NOCI
JUDGE: And maybe a big cloak of this colour and style?
GERON DE LE NOCI: Yes, exactly the same!
JUDGE: You're very lucky that we found them.
GERON DE LE NOCI: What d’you mean, “found” them?
JUDGE: They were found in the house of the late lamented and supposedly incinerated Captain!
GERON DE LE NOCI: So then, your Honour, it was actually the Captain who ordered me to steal him the statue?!
JUDGE: Yes, but he was acting on orders too. He was acting on behalf of a group of leading citizens of this city, who had their reasons for wanting the Cathedral burned down. This was a deliberate ploy to mislead us by making it look as if the fire had been started in order to cover the theft of the golden statue. And that way, a big stupid-brain ends up taking the blame for the fire. In other words, you!
GERON DE LE NOCI: Oh! The bastards! They wanted to blame me for everything!
GERON DE LE NOCI: Well fancy that – so it was the Captain himself who started the fire, and then he ends up getting burned alive...
JUDGE: That is a possible interpretation.
GERON DE LE NOCI: So I'm free to go!
JUDGE: Certainly. Free to go as regards starting the fire. But you stay in jail on account of stealing the statue... Even if it was on commission... Take him away!
GERON DE LE NOCI: [Despondently] This isn't my day!
He is led off by the two GUARDS.
JUDGE: Good, we've finished for today. We start again tomorrow. [General applause] No, no applause! We're not in a theatre, here... [Everyone heads for the exit, but then they stop in their tracks and turn to look at the JUDGE. A pause] Or are we?
Everyone except PIZZOCCA exits. The two young SERVING GIRLS lower the sheets and then also exit.
PIZZOCCA: [Directly to the audience] You have seen, you have watched, and now you must agree: this Judge is a real hawk! He had the lid off the whole business, quick as a flash! Oh, what a story! I can't wait for tomorrow’s session, to find out what happens next! I just know I won't get a wink of sleep tonight! So, you've already met the main characters of our comedy. [The characters pass in front of the sheets as they are cited, and they bow as they go] [Note 1] The Judge. The Thief. The Blacksmith... The two Girls... who are beautiful, but a bit of a handful! Then there's another girl that you've not met yet... A fine figure of a woman, all overflowing with curves... [She indicates breasts, hips and backside] ...narrow at the waist like a wasp, with two thighs as plump as hams. What happens then? Somebody arrives who likes ham! The Cardinal! And that leaves who? Oh Lord, how silly! There's me... Such a modest soul that I was forgetting myself. My name is Pizzocca Ganassa, housekeeper and serving maid to his Honour the Judge... As I told you before. But what I haven't told you yet [She raises her hands as a megaphone in front of her mouth, and lowers her voice] because if the others hear me, they'll get jealous... is that I’m far and away the most important character in this play, and without me this show goes nowhere! Now, I'm going up on the terrace to put my feet up for a bit. I’ll be back to see you later... I don’t think you’ll find our little play hard to follow. But don’t go nodding off. Pay attention. It’s got allegories, and you should listen out for them... Don't forget! Theatre isn't like reading a book. If you miss something, you can’t turn back the page and read it again. No. Theatre is like life: what's done is done, and there's no turning back!
She blows a kiss to the audience and exits, stage-left, to the strains of a tarantella. A curtain is lowered, depicting the facade of the palace.
Stage left, two DEVILS appear, if possible with a flash. They are lit by spotlights. Maestro FRANCIPANTE and his apprentice devil BARLOCCO
BARLOCCO-DEVIL: [Shouting after PIZZOCCA] Just a moment... Hey, I say, Mrs Lady Leading Actress, you forgot to introduce us!
FRANCIPANTE: [Peremptorily] Barlocco! [Pointing to a lady in the audience] You gave that poor lady a fright! Barlocco, forget it... The Pizzocca woman doesn’t even know we’re here. [To the audience near him] Sorry about this, he's just a learner.
BARLOCCO: What d'you mean, doesn’t know we’re here? The woman stands up here, spewing out prologues, and she names every dog and pig in the place, and says nothing about us? I presume you’re joking! You mean we don’t even get a mention?!
FRANCIPANTE: Barlocco, you are being very silly. Will you please shut up!
BARLOCCO: [Indicating the audience around him] Maestro! Oh, what a lot of Christians here! Whoever of you is without sin, let him throw the first stone! [They cower slightly, covering their heads with their arms to ward off an expected shower of stones, which does not come] Haha! Maestro, is it really true what you say, that Pizzocca didn't introduce us because she doesn’t know we’re here?
FRANCIPANTE: Indeed, sir. For the reason being that this comedy which we are about to perform is an improvised comedy... We make it up as we go along...
FRANCIPANTE: Yes. In other words, everything that happens on this stage happens as if by chance, and cannot be predicted... Especially the sudden appearance of unscripted characters such as ourselves!
BARLOCCO: You mean we're not even in the script? But aren't you the master devil? And am I not your demon apprentice?!
FRANCIPANTE: [Worried] Shush! Stop your stupid prattle! You’ll get these spectators into terrible trouble. Don't you know that these days they take Christians who believe in the Devil and they burn them at the stake?
BARLOCCO: And what about if they don't believe in the Devil?
FRANCIPANTE: They burn them too!
FRANCIPANTE wanders off into the wings.
BARLOCCO: But wait a minute, Maestro... If Pizzocca doesn’t know we’re here, then maybe the audience doesn’t know either...
A stand-in for FRANCIPANTE pops back in, stage-right, but the next line is in FRANCIPANTE’s voice.
FRANCIPANTE: Wrong again! Christian spectators can see us and hear us... But Christian actors, no! Understand?
The STAND-IN FOR FRANCIPANTE disappears, stage right.
BARLOCCO: [Looking into the wings, stage right] Maestro, don’t keep running away like that! Where are you?
With a leap, FRANCIPANTE appears at stage-left, accompanied by a flash, a small cloud of smoke and maybe a loud raspberry on a trombone.
FRANCIPANTE: [As if in a fanfare] Taraaa!
BARLOCCO: Ha! That’s amazing! Brilliant! [To the audience] Did you see that? One second he’s here, the next he's over there! A miracle? How did you do that?
FRANCIPANTE'S DOUBLE: [Wandering back on-stage] What d'you mean, idiot – we tricked you. I’m his double! [To the audience] Goodbye!
He disappears with a snigger.
FRANCIPANTE: Hang on, I need a minute to get my breath back!
BARLOCCO: So, tell me, Maestro... You have brought me here to see this Judge Alfonso de Tristano doing his business in the Courthouse. But why?
FRANCIPANTE: Because you, my son, are destined for a great mission! Historic, even.
BARLOCCO: A mission?
FRANCIPANTE: Your mission is... to take possession of his Honour the Judge!
BARLOCCO: How d’you mean, possession?
FRANCIPANTE: Of his body, his brain, his limbs, his voice, his thoughts and actions, and his every wish and fancy!
BARLOCCO: Hell's cancer – all in one go? And what do I do then?
FRANCIPANTE: Ruin him! Corrupt him! He is a holy man. Chaste and inviolate! Never even had a woman. It seems he can’t be corrupted. Imagine it! A saint! It also seems that his intention is to start a public inquiry, in order to overthrow the government of this city, which is run by crooks and swindlers. Your job is to drag him down, turn him ino a seething sex-pot, a swindling hypocrite!
BARLOCCO: But that’s hard, Maestro. What if I fail?
FRANCIPANTE: In that case you know what the punishment is: you will be dis5solved in the seething shite of Hell's inferno!
BARLOCCO: Well spike me up my grunge-pipe, what a terrible way to go!
FRANCIPANTE: And we won’t be having vulgar language! Because you're going to infiltrate the body of a very proper Christian!
BARLOCCO: Infiltrate him? Don’t tell me – he’s going to swallow me like a communion wafer...
FRANCIPANTE: No, you won’t be going in through the mouth.
BARLOCCO: So how, then?
FRANCIPANTE: Through the best and most fundamental of orifices: his bumhole! [Note 2]
BARLOCCO: Tell me that you’re joking, Maestro!
FRANCIPANTE: Not at all. It's the easiest way in... A little devil like you should go up there easy-peasy. Think of yourself as a suppository.
BARLOCCO: Do I really have to become a suppository for this man’s bumhole?!
Enter a DEVIL with a saw, which he hands to FRANCIPANTE.
FRANCIPANTE: Yes! Now, let's have your head!
BARLOCCO: No, no, you’re not going to saw my head off!
FRANCIPANTE: [Sawing off his horns] No... Just these two pointy bits... Because a suppository with horns on presents... certain problems...
BARLOCCO: Oh God, a suppository! Don’t let my mum get to hear of it!
FRANCIPANTE: Oh do stop complaining! And remember that going up the back passage of a magistrate is an honour without equal in this world... One up on the camel through the eye of a needle...!
They exit, dancing to the strains of the tarantella heard previously. The lights dim.
PIZZOCCA: Right? Ready? Wait for it...
In the half-light we hear a loud bang, followed by another. The balustrades at stage-right and stage-left are knocked flying by the explosion. Bits and pieces are hurled across the stage and there may be a cloud of smoke.
Enter the two SERVING GIRLS, running. They scream with fear. They may be followed by others – GUARDS for instance.
PIZZOCCA: [She is visibly upset] So much for putting my feet up for a bit! You girls, stop screaming your heads off, and come and sweep up here.
The two SERVING GIRLS clear the bits off the stage, helped by the GUARDS, if necessary. As they do so:
The facade of the palace rises, and we find ourselves in the drawing room of the JUDGE's apartments. The entry door is stage left. Stage right is another door which gives access to other rooms. Stage right there is a hint of a staircase leading to an upper gallery. The following items are on-stage: in the centre is a large table; there may be various chairs and armchairs. At the back of the stage is a classic Renaissance sideboard, on which sits a large covered vase full of balls of horse dung. There are also plates, drinking vessels of pewter and silver, and various bottles. At the back of the stage is also a dress-maker's dummy on which clothes can be hung. We hear knocking at the door, stage-left.
The GIRLS exit, and PIZZOCCA crosses into the room.
PIZZOCCA: I'm coming!! [As she enters, she is obviously in a state. She crosses the stage with her curious ostrich-like walk] I'm coming! God, what a state I'm in! You see? You see? Now they’ve started chucking bombs at him! I knew it would come to this. And you know why? Because he has this mania for going out on his balcony and waving to Brother Michele da Lentini and his pathetic band of heretics every time they come by in procession. Heretics are no good. Heretics mean trouble. And the Master is like a moth to a candle when it comes to trouble! [Further violent knocking at the door] I'm cooooming! Who is it? [She opens the door. Enter a YOUNG WOMAN, rather haughtily. She is dressed fairly showily, and wears a large shawl and a veil to hide her face] Hey – stop right there! Where do you think you’re going, all covered up like that?!
JACOBA: I have to speak with the Judge!
PIZZOCCA: No, dear. If you have to speak with the Judge, go to the Courtroom with your face uncovered, and there you can prattle away to your heart's content...
JACOBA: I can't go to the Courtroom. I'm in terrible danger! They'll kill me!
PIZZOCCA: Kill you? What d’you mean, kill you?!
JACOBA: You should know that I am the woman who was in bed with the Captain of the Guard when the Cathedral caught fire.
PIZZOCCA: Oh! By Saint Gertrude violated by the Turks... So you were the one who went running off naked with the fire coming out of your backside? Ha, ha! [She bows obsequiously] Pleased to meet you! Highly honoured... Do sit down, make yourself at home. [She almost forces her to sit down] So now let’s take a look at you!
She attempts to raise her veil.
JACOBA: [She leaps to her feet to prevent her] No, I dare not! What I have to say can only be revealed to the Judge!
PIZZOCCA: [Sitting down with a sigh] Sorry to tell you this, but first you have to reveal it to me!
JACOBA: And why might that be?
PIZZOCCA: For the legally cast-iron fact that I am the Judge's sole collaborator. I’m his secretary! And either you confide in me... Or there's the door, and off you go, fuori dai coglioni! [Note 2]
JACOBA: [She sighs] Oh, alright then...
[She raises her veil]
PIZZOCCA: Well, well, well, the Captain’s moll! [To JACOBA] I told you, dear, sit down, make yourself comfortable. Now tell me – so the Captain and you were up in your little love-nest, and while you were enjoying a bit of slap and tickle, he had arranged for a thief to come and carry off the statue...?
JACOBA: No, we only started making love afterwards...
PIZZOCCA: Afterwards... After he started the fire?!
JACOBA: No, he had nothing to do with it!
PIZZOCCA: But you had something to do with it...
JACOBA: No, what d'you mean...?! If you must know, he was actually killed before the fire started.
JACOBA: Yes. Stabbed! [She gestures as if plunging a dagger into her breast] Like that!
PIZZOCCA: Just like that... While he was in bed with you?!
JACOBA: Yes. And that was the reason why he couldn't save himself from the fire... Because he’d been stabbed... like a Saint Sebastian... And the blow of the knife cut me too!
She opens her bodice, copiously revealing a breast with an obvious wound.
PIZZOCCA: Oh Saint Agatha of the transfixed tits! It's a miracle. They stuck a knife in your tit and it didn't explode?! [She changes tone] Is that a real wound? Let me feel.
PIZZOCCA: Let me touch it, I said! [She grabs her by one arm and either swings her or flicks her over in such a way as to make her do a somersault. JACOBA ends up front-stage] And where d’you think you’re going? Into the arms of the audience?! [She points to a lady in the first row] You see the fright you gave to that poor lady there...
Enter the JUDGE.
JUDGE: Pizzocca, why are you looking at that girl? Who is she?
JACOBA covers her breasts and face.
PIZZOCCA: She is someone who has... tragic news, your Honour!
JUDGE: And she keeps this news hidden between her breasts?!
JACOBA: Oh sir, sir, are you his Honour the Judge? [She removes the veil from her face] I was telling your secretary here [PIZZOCCA gives her a kick or somehow tries to shut her up] about my lover the Captain... who was killed while he lay at my breast! [She reveals her breasts again] Look, you may see the wound!
JUDGE: [He stops her, in embarrassment] Not necessary, thank you.
JACOBA: You can even touch it, if you want!
JUDGE: [Embarrassed] Thank you, but I don't touch a thing when I'm fasting. [He changes tone] Anyway, what d’you mean, “secretary”? I don’t have a secretary...
JACOBA: [Amazed, pointing to PIZZOCCA] But the lady said...
PIZZOCCA: Some mad woman who was hanging round here... I sent her away with a kick in the pants!
JUDGE: [Furious] Pizzocca... You're going to have to stop interfering and sticking your nose into the business of the Tribunal...! One of these days it's going to end up with me kicking you out... [To the GIRL:] And you, daughter... If you really do have something to reveal... apart from your female attributes, that is... follow me to the Courtroom... And if I were you, I’d cover that fruit from the sun... because it's ripe enough already! [He turns back to PIZZOCCA] And you, next time... you’ll be out on your neck!
Exit the JUDGE and JACOBA.
PIZZOCCA: Oh Lord, he's angry now! Damn, what a disaster! Here I was, all in a state because they were about to kill him at any minute... Then this gorgeous girl turns up, and starts telling me a seething tale of passion... And just at the moment when her Captain was in full flight, and shouting: "God! God... Light of my life...!" Zap! A stab-wound to the heart... and the light of his life went out for good... And then the Master has to come and rob me of the grand finale! Hey no, I won't stand for it! He can kick me out if he likes, but I want to know how it ended up. I'm going upstairs... over his office there's a little hole where you can listen in, like you're in a confessional! [She goes up the stairs] Oh Saint Orsola violated by the Turks... I'm all sweating with emotion here!
She disappears into the wings, going up the stairs.
The two DEVILS enter through the main door and look around.
FRANCIPANTE: Watch out they don't discover us! You can bet your life that Pizzocca will be up there spying on us...
BARLOCCO: [Peering into the other rooms] It’s alright, there's no-one here.
From the room next door we hear the scream of a woman. The DEVILS hide under the big table, while the JUDGE appears, holding in his arms a young woman. It is JACOBA, who has fainted.
JUDGE: Oh that's all we need! She’s passed out! [He calls out] Pizzocca... Quick, bring some water and smelling salts! Pizzocca...!
The STAND-IN FOR PIZZOCCA peeps out of the top right arch. [Note 3]
PIZZOCCA: You called, sir?
JUDGE: What are you doing up there? Come down at once!
PIZZOCCA: Yes, sir. At once. I fly, I fly...! [PIZZOCCA'S STAND-IN takes hold of a rope and launches herself across the stage. She lands with a thud in the wings, where she is replaced by PIZZOCCA, who enters backwards, and limping] Saint Orsola flying in Heaven, what a bump! Whatever possessed me to fly... I haven't flown for ages! I'm all in bits!
JUDGE: Pizzocca, quick! This is a disaster. The girl’s passed out on me. Hurry up and do something, we’ve got to get her out of here.
PIZZOCCA: Has she fainted, or what?
JUDGE: I don’t know. Look, she’s got a sort of froth coming out of her mouth.
PIZZOCCA: [She sniffs] Oh, by all the saints in heaven! She's poisoned herself! It's deadly nightshade! But why? Why would she have done that?
JUDGE: I think I can guess the reason.
PIZZOCCA: Would you mind telling me too, so’s I can get some sleep tonight?
JUDGE: Oh Lord... I think I'm going to be sick!
PIZZOCCA: Tummy upset, your Honour?
JUDGE: Er, yes.
PIZZOCCA: Just go and relax in the toilet, and let yourself go, your Honour... I'll see to the girl.
JUDGE: She can't stay in here! Pizzocca, for goodness sake, do whatever you have to, but save her... If she dies here in my apartments, my reputation will be shot to pieces.
He exits, groaning and clutching his belly.
PIZZOCCA: Relax, your Honour, if she’s going to die, I’ll make sure it’s somewhere else! [To the audience] Poor man, he's got a terrible problem... No sooner does he see a pair of tits than... he gets all cranked up inside... [She points to her stomach] ...so bad that he can be stuck in the toilet for five hours at a stretch. [She calls the two SERVING GIRLS loudly] Zoanna! Clarissa! Where are you?
She goes to the sideboard and rummages among various pots, jars and bottles for the antidote.
ZOANNA AND CLARISSA: [From off-stage] Coming!
PIZZOCCA: Get a move on, you wretches. Come and give me a hand!
Enter the two young SERVING GIRLS, holding the Judge's ceremonial robe and hat, which they place on the dressmaker's dummy.
CLARISSA: You called?
ZOANNA: We were preparing his Excellency's ceremonial robe!
PIZZOCCA: Oh yes, I forgot, he’s invited to supper with the Duke after the theatre tonight. [She points to JACOBA] I need your help to get this girl sorted out.
ZOANNA: She's so pale! Who is she?
CLARISSA: And what's that stuff coming out of her mouth?
PIZZOCCA: Seems like she tried to poison herself, that’s what. [She continues rummaging] Oh Lord, and I’ve still got all this shite here. It’s the master’s fault for rushing me: "Hurry up... I want these pickled in alcohol, to use them as evidence..." And then he forgets to take them and they just end up making the house stink! [She sniffs them] God they smell weird! Right, girls, this should be pretty simple. [She produces a bucket] First of all, shawl off. [She removes the shawl] Now you two, hold her over the bucket. [The GIRLS do as she says] Hold her steady. And now two fingers down the throat...
JACOBA vomits into the bucket.
CLARISSA: Oh God, that’s revolting...!
ZOANNA: It stinks...!
PIZZOCCA: Now, lay her out on the table.
The GIRLS do as she says. JACOBA’s womanly attributes are somewhat revealed. Meanwhile there is a violent banging at the door.
Who's that now? This place is a madhouse! [She shouts] I'm coming! [She leaves the bucket and goes over to the entry door in the wings] Who is it... I don't care who you are... If you want to put in a statement, go down to the Courthouse!
ZOANNA and CLARISSA exit hastily.
The intruder enters, pushing PIZZOCCA out of the way. He wears a Venetian bautta mask and a broad-brimmed hat, and is wrapped in a large cloak.
INTRUDER: Out of my way! I have to confer with the Judge. At once! [With large strides he goes straight past JACOBA on the table] Inform the Judge that I am... [Faced with the sight of JACOBA’s womanly attributes, he is stopped in his tracks] er... here... um... here...
PIZZOCCA: [She grabs a long stick] Oh no you don’t! Wallop! [She fetches him a mighty blow on the back. The intruder falls heavily to the ground] Show's over!
He makes as if reaching for something under his cloak.
PIZZOCCA: Drawing your sword, eh?!
She thumps him again. As if doing fancy sword-work.
INTRUDER: It’s not a sword, it’s my purse!
He produces a small velvet bag containing money, and throws it to her.
PIZZOCCA: A purse! With money. To corrupt his Honour the Judge, I presume!
A further series of blows.
INTRUDER: What's got into you?! Calm down! [He tries to escape the woman's blows] Stop it, you wretch! I am Cardinal Ambone!
PIZZOCCA: Yes... [More blows] Oh yes, the cardinal goes round with a big sword and bags of money to corrupt his Honour the Judge, eh? I don’t think!
CARDINAL: Help! She's killing me!
[Enter the JUDGE]
JUDGE: Pizzoca, for God’s sake, what on earth are you up to now? Why are you hitting that poor man?
PIZZOCCA: For sure he's the murderer... He's come to kill the girl, so’s she can't turn up as a witness at the trial, and he wants to bribe you with money...
She hands him the money and aims another blow at the man, but it ends up hitting the JUDGE's foot.
PIZZOCCA: Sorry, Master, I was getting carried away! Look, and he's got a bautta mask!
JUDGE: Cardinal, is that you?
PIZZOCCA is alarmed, and moves away.
CARDINAL: Get me out of the hands of that lunatic before she kills me!
JUDGE: Get out of here, you stupid woman! And get that girl out of here too!
The two SERVING GIRLS re-enter, and help JACOBA off the stage.
JUDGE: Forgive me, your Eminence... Get out, you halfwit! [PIZZOCCA exits, in a huff] Forgive me... I suppose she meant well... [He points to the sideboard dresser] There's some brandy, your Eminence, please do help yourself... I'll be back in a minute...
CARDINAL: Brandy, eh? Now there's a treat... just what I was needing... [He picks up a bottle, removes the stopper and sniffs the contents] Hmmm... excellent bouquet! [He pours himself a glassful and tastes it] Excellent! Now, if only there was something to get my teeth into... [He picks up the jar with the horse droppings pickled in alcohol and sniffs it] Must be pickled faggots or something... strange smell, though... [He takes out a piece, tastes it and puts the jar back onto the table] Nice! Delicate!... Tastes like shite, in fact, but then all the best foods have a touch of ripeness about them... [From behind, one of the DEVILS snatches the morsel from the CARDINAL’s hand. Having tried it, the DEVIL spits it out over the CARDINAL in disgust] Where did it go? What was that? [This comment triggers a series of gags between the CARDINAL and the two DEVILS, who make objects appear and disappear from under his nose. They drink from his glass and from the bottle, and steal out of his plate] Now where's the bottle gone? It was here a moment ago. [A DEVIL places the bottle noisily back onto the table. The CARDINAL turns round to look] It's back! [To the bottle] Where did you go? You’re not supposed to go wandering off, you know. [He goes to pour himself a drink, but the bottle is empty] You've emptied yourself! I wonder if there’s another one... [He finds one on the table] Oh well done, a full one! [He pours himself a drink, takes a plate, puts a piece of horse dropping on it, sits at the table and begins to eat] Let's eat, let's eat! Bon appetito! [One of the DEVILS steals his morsel] Where did my meatball go?! [He moves the plate to his right, and the DEVIL puts the horse dropping back on the plate] Ha! Back again! My eyes seem to be playing up today... [He takes a bite out of the horse dropping] Mmmm, this is exquisite!
He drinks contentedly.
The JUDGE re-enters.
JUDGE: Ah. Glad to see you've helped yourself. Good brandy, eh? Now tell me, if you don’t mind my asking, what on earth put it into your head to come visiting me here, all masked up like that?
CARDINAL: I have something very important to tell you. But first of all, who was that girl on the table there? I found her very... disturbing...
JUDGE: You found her disturbing, your Excellence... Imagine how I felt.
CARDINAL: What d’you mean?
JUDGE: Not ten minutes since, I found myself with that women in tears all over me...
CARDINAL: What d’you mean, “all over you”...?
JUDGE: I mean with her breasts half bared, and clinging to me, and breathing warmth and fragrance all over me, and holding me like she would never let me go...
CARDINAL: [He pulls out a handkerchief and mops his brow] And then? What happened then?
JUDGE: I felt these hot, seething passions rising up inside me.
CARDINAL: And then what?
JUDGE: Then nothing.
JUDGE: Not exactly nothing. Sennapods.
JUDGE: Yes, because a man must protect himself from the Devil’s works. The Devil may tempt me, but I am prepared! [He shows him a small bottle, takes a pill from it, and waves it under the CARDINAL’s nose] Six at a time!
CARDINAL: But you’ll blow your insides out with a dose like that!
JUDGE: Exactly! Every time this demon passion of mine begins to rise, straight away I swallow a handful of these, and they have me rushing to the toilet, and that way I’m saved from the Devil.
CARDINAL: Seems a terrible waste... I mean, a shame... I suppose that’s what drove the poor girl to poison herself. There she was, offering herself to you, and the best you can manage is to run off and lock yourself in the crapper.
JUDGE: No. The swallowing of the poison was for a quite other reason. Which I am not yet in a position to reveal to you. [Two GUARDS enter through the main door] What do you want?
FIRST GUARD: We are here to accompany you to his Excellency the Duke.
Enter the SERVING GIRLS.
JUDGE: Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that. And we're late too.
CARDINAL: I've been invited as well.
JUDGE: Let's get out now, before the front of the palace comes down on our heads.
As the backdrop for the facade of the palace drops down, the JUDGE and the CARDINAL move to the front of the stage, followed by the two GUARDS, who help them to put on their respective cloaks. The DEVILS watch the scene, spying through the centre door.
JUDGE: But to get back to what we were talking about... why did you arrive here wearing a mask?
CARDINAL: I had to come in secret. To give you a piece of advice.
JUDGE: What advice?
CARDINAL: Bear in mind that I am taking a risk here, and it is only because I hold you in the greatest regard...
JUDGE: I thank you for that, but I repeat, what advice?
CARDINAL: Let’s start with the business of the cannon shots, which came close to leaving you like Bolognese sauce.
JUDGE: So you heard about that? If you happen to know the gunner, convey my compliments to the man... he has a terrific aim.
CARDINAL: Don't joke about it. It was a warning to you.
JUDGE: And what comes after the warning?
CARDINAL: The warning says: stop following that gang of crazies who go round after Brother Michele da Lentini. And stop going up onto your balcony and waving to these fanatics, it only encourages them.
JUDGE: And why do you call them fanatics?
CARDINAL: Please, don’t play the innocent with me! Haven’t you heard the way they preach against the Church and the gentry?
JUDGE: But they’re just being satirical; anyway, some of what they say is pretty spot-on.
CARDINAL: Spot-on, you say? Like the stuff comparing the Church of Rome with Sodom and Gomorrah?
JUDGE: That was just a figure of speech.
CARDINAL: And I suppose when they talk about burning all paintings with naked women in, that was a figure of speech too? And perhaps it is reasonable to suspect that people who begin by burning naked women end up burning cathedrals and suchlike...
JUDGE: Aha! So now we know the rogues we should be arresting! Heretics and idiots, they always come in useful, don’t they! But you gentlemen should be careful not to end up like the lion when he overloaded the ass.
CARDINAL: Overloading the ass... What are you talking about?
JUDGE: It's an ancient Greek fable. Would you like to hear?
CARDINAL: Why not, why not...
JUDGE: Right. Here we go. Mia fora’ kai ena kairo, enas meghalos leona...
CARDINAL: [Interrupting] Wait a minute – you’re surely not telling it in Greek?
JUDGE: Of course. It's a lot funnier in the original.
CARDINAL: If you don't mind, I'd be just as happy in the common tongue.
JUDGE: I couldn't possibly tell it in the vulgar tongue wearing fancy robes like this.
The GUARDS remove his cloak.
CARDINAL: [Removing his own cloak, with the assistance of the SERVING GIRLS] Me too. Out of solidarity.
JUDGE: Well anyway, one year, as every year, all the beasts of the valley were invited up to the sanctuary on the top of the mountain for the blessing of the animals. The lion chose the donkey as his travelling companion, because he thought: "This journey is going to be long and wearisome, and when the going starts to get steep I can get up on the donkey's back. He can carry me. And then, if I happen to get hungry, I can eat him too!" So he suggests to the donkey that they travel together, and the donkey agrees. But the donkey proposes a deal: "We'll take turns in carrying each other. Alright? Two miles each." So off they go. When the road starts to get steeper, up speaks the lion: "Time for me to get up on your back!" "Alright, up you go...?" And with a leap the lion is up there on the donkey's back. "Hey, go easy with those claws sticking into my ribs," says the donkey. "You scratch me like that and I bleed to death!" "I can't help it. I have to hold on as best I can! Giddy-up! Giddy-up! Away you go!" So the donkey reaches the top of the mountain, and by this time he's got blood pouring down from his scratches. "Well," he says, "now at least for the journey down it's my turn to ride on your back!" "True enough, fair's fair," says the lion. "You did the work on the way up, I do it on the way down. Away you go!" And the donkey jumps up onto the lion's back... But he has a terrible time keeping his balance. He slithers here and there, because he's got hooves, you see, and he can't get a proper grip. Then all of a sudden our donkey jockey has an idea – a thrust of his loins, stiff as a ramrod, and straight up the lion’s backside. Held in place. Good and solid. "Hey, ho, ouch!" shouts the lion. "What is that blooming great truncheon that you've stuck up my rear?" Forgive me, your majesty...” says the donkey. “I can’t help it – each of us has to hold on as best he can! Giddy-up! Giddy-up! Away you go!"
SONG: Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up
and away you go, and don't even stop.
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, and go
and imagine that you’re flying.
The two SERVING GIRLS and the two GUARDS help the JUDGE and CARDINAL with their cloaks and hats. Singing and dancing, and followed by the DEVILS, they all exit
The canvas traverse depicting the front of the palace is raised and we find ourselves in the JUDGE's bedroom. It has a large canopied bed on the right and a chest of drawers with a mirror on the left. On the left there is also a fireplace with a large hooded chimneypiece. At the back of the stage stands a large picture frame on wheels, its bottom edge just clear of the ground. Also a low table and two chairs. Draped across a chair are two gowns of identical colour (the ones which the JUDGE wears during trials) and a hat to accompany each of them.
Enter PIZZOCCA, in a night-dress, holding a lighted candle, and wrapped in a large shawl.
PIZZOCCA: Ye gods, it’s freezing in here! [She sneezes violently. She looks at the empty bed] And his honour’s not back yet! What time is it?! [A bell sounds the hour with four strokes] Four o'clock already... Where can the blessed man be? He's never been this late before! [She puts the candle on one of the chairs and goes to the fireplace] I don't believe it, the fire's out again! [She tries to light it, using bellows to get the flames going. A cloud of smoke billows out of the chimney, right in her face, and makes her sneeze] Atchoo! Oh to hell with it. Damned chimney, won't draw! I bet he went for a natter with the Duke after the theatre! [She sneezes] Atchoo! Oh bother, I'm all shivers! My teeth are chattering with the cold! [She picks up one of the JUDGE's two gowns, and puts it on] I'll keep this on for a bit. That ought to warm me up... You know, I like dressing up as a judge. If I was born again, I'd be a judge, and I'd put all the big bad wrongdoers on the bonfire! And the lawyers who defend them too! To the stake with the lot of them! Let’s have the hat too... [PIZZOCCA takes the JUDGE's hat and puts it on her head] I'll get into bed... That way, when his Honour comes back he'll find it nice and warm, and that way I get a nap too.
She lies down, draws the curtains of the bed, and goes to sleep.
FRANCIPANTE, the master Devil, enters via the chimney-piece, followed by BARLOCCO. As they shake the soot off them, they both sneeze. PIZZOCCA sneezes too, in her sleep. We have a brief concert of sneezes.
BARLOCCO: Maestro, why is it that, every time, out of all the ways in... Atchoo... we have to pick the... Atchoo... dirtiest?
FRANCIPANTE: Oh do stop moaning... Atchoo...
The violence of PIZZOCCA’s sneeze makes BARLOCCO jump.
FRANCIPANTE: Look, see, he’s back... [He pulls aside the canopy of the bed] All tucked up in beddy-byes.
PIZZOCCA: [Sneezing in turn] Takes his job a bit seriously, doesn’t he – going to bed in his ceremonial robes!
FRANCIPANTE: Shush, I told you... you’ll wake him! Right, are you ready? Your big moment has come!
BARLOCCO: To be honest, Maestro, I'm a bit nervous...
FRANCIPANTE: Calm down. Relax. Now, sit here, because I've got to get you down to the right size.
BARLOCCO: Eh? Won't I do the way I am?
FRANCIPANTE: You’re joking! That big you'd be a suppository for an elephant! No, I need to make you smaller... Turn you teeny-weeny. [He gets BARLOCCO to squat down. Then, like a magician, he pulls a cloth out of his bag and waves it in the air] Are you ready? Now just relax.
He holds the cloth in front of BARLOCCO in order to hide him from the audience, and chants a spell.
With a teeny-weeny, hey prest-O!
There you are! [He whips away the cloth. BARLOCCO has not disappeared. Addressing the audience:] Oh damn! I can never get that wretched spell to work! [To BARLOCCO] I told you, you’ve got to be calm and relaxed, otherwise the spell won't work!
He places the cloth in front of BARLOCCO again, and repeats the spell.
With a teeny-weent, hey prest-O!
Again he removes the cloth. This time BARLOCCO has disappeared. In his place we see a tiny moving puppet, a perfect model of him] Barlocco, where are you?
BARLOCCO: I'm here!
FRANCIPANTE: [Deliriously happy] It worked! It worked! Ha, ha!
BARLOCCO: Oh God, what's happened?! You've reduced me to a midget!
FRANCIPANTE: Ha, you look brilliant, all little like that.
BARLOCCO: [Shouting] A mirror! A mirror so’s I can see myself!
FRANCIPANTE: No point. You know devils can't be reflected in mirrors. You're perfect! Now, before you take possession of this body [He points to where PIZZOCCA is lying] I need to give you a little something for your journey.
He hands him a tiny watch with a little chain attached.
BARLOCCO: [He takes the watch] What is it?
FRANCIPANTE: It's a wind-up watch... dummy!
BARLOCCO: I've never seen one that small.
FRANCIPANTE: It's a masterpiece... It strikes the hour, and it plays tunes too. Listen!
The watch chimes a jolly tune. The PUPPET does a few dance steps.]
BARLOCCO: That’s wonderful, Maestro!
FRANCIPANTE: Now get ready. And remember, every time the clock chimes, you gain power and total possession of this person's body. But when it strikes again... at that very moment you stop, you fall asleep, you go into a kind of hibernation. And at the same time the Judge regains possession of his body and his faculties.
BARLOCCO: Why would he want to do that?
FRANCIPANTE: For the simple fact that you can't just move in and take him over lock, stock and barrel. You need to take it one step at a time... Otherwise he goes mad, and his brain explodes like a melon!
BARLOCCO: I understand...
FRANCIPANTE: Good! Now, concentrate... [He picks up the BARLOCCO puppet and slips him under the sheet] Take a good deep breath, get your head down, find the hole and get stuck in, boy! Good luck!
BARLOCCO: Ooo-er – it's dark, Maestro... I can't see a thing in here!
FRANCIPANTE: Just take the plunge!
BARLOCCO: Ooo... aah... I can't breathe...
PIZZOCCA: [Leaping about and waving her legs, she shouts:] Huh... huh... What's happening?! Help! Oh mamma, the Turks, the Turks...!!!
FRANCIPANTE: You're in there, son! Congratulations!
He pulls the curtains of the bed across, and, sniggering, exits via the fireplace.
We are still in the JUDGE’s bedroom. Noises off. A door flies open. Enter two GUARDS, supporting the JUDGE, who is visibly drunk.
JUDGE: Leave me... I can stand up on my own...
FIRST GUARD: Your Honour, be careful... That's the third time you've... fallen over... on your own!
SECOND GUARD: You should watch out, your Honour, you're extremely drunk!
JUDGE: Take note, young man, that only peasants and poor people get drunk... Gentlemen and people of learning become spiritually inebriated. Leave me, I said! I can manage perfectly well...
The JUDGE takes hold of the frame of the big picture. The GUARDS try to stop it falling over. With one rip, he ends up with the picture in his hands. The JUDGE moves round the stage, supported only by the picture frame on wheels. He thinks that it's a mirror.
JUDGE: I really must have imbibed too much of those spiritual spirits... I warned the Duke that I’m not a drinker. “Oh no, just a glass or two, won’t do you any harm.” And now I don’t know if I’m coming or going...
He is about to remove his cloak.
SECOND GUARD: Be careful taking your cloak off, your Honour... It's very cold in this room...
JUDGE: Away with this robe... makes me look like an imperial peacock!
He removes his robe.
FIRST GUARD: [He helps him put on the gown which is on the chair; it is identical to the one that PIZZOCCA is wearing] At least put this robe on... because the fire's gone out!
JUDGE: And why didn't Pizzocca keep it going?
SECOND GUARD: I’ve no idea.
JUDGE: Where is she? Where’s the wretch hiding? [He wobbles] Go and find her at once! [He wobbles again] Oh, my head's spinning!
SECOND GUARD: I'll go and look for her now.
JUDGE: If she's asleep, wake her up! [To the audience] Who are you? Ballooners?!* What a lot of drunk people! Lord, it's an invasion of drunks!
Re-enter the SECOND GUARD.
JUDGE: That was quick!
SECOND GUARD: She’s nowhere to be found, your Honour, not even in her room.
JUDGE: She must have gone out looking for me.
SECOND GUARD: Could be, sir...
JUDGE: So what are you doing, just standing there? Go out and find her.
FIRST GUARD: Yes, your Honour, at once, your Honour... But are you sure that...?
JUDGE: Shut up and go! [The two GUARDS head determinedly for the fireplace] No, not through the fireplace!
GUARDS: [In unison] Yes, your Honour!
JUDGE: Through the door!
The GUARDS exit. We hear a great crash.
FIRST GUARD: [Re-entering] It was shut!
JUDGE: Presumably explains why soldiers always wear helmets! Oof, I'm going to bed... [He pulls aside the canopy, only to discover PIZZOCCA lying there, wearing his clothes and his hat] Oh dear! I'm already in bed! So how do I go to bed now? God, I'm the image of myself! [In desperation] I never imagined that getting drunk would mean there’s be two of me! That's it, I swear I'll never touch another drop! [At this moment the clock in PIZZOCCA's belly chimes] And where's that strange sound coming from...? Oh dear, I must be hearing things!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA gets up and stands on the bed. She starts moving her belly and hips in time with the chimes.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Speaking with the voice of BARLOCCO] [Note 4] What's happening...? Where am I...? [She gets off the bed, and finds herself in front of the picture-frame-cum-mirror, behind which the JUDGE stands, looking at her dumbfoundedly] How can this be...?! I'm inside the Judge, but at the same time I'm outside?! And how come I can see myself in the mirror...? I thought devils couldn’t do that. It must be because I’m in a new body.
JUDGE: Who on earth are you?!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I can't see you very well...
Using one edge of their robes, both actors mime polishing the non-existent glass between them. Their movements are precisely synchronised.
JUDGE: A devil of a job, polishing these mirrors! But who are you?! [He goes to take the candle which PIZZOCCA had placed on the fireplace. He makes a lunge at BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA, but bangs his head on the imaginary mirror] Oouch...! The mirror...! I thought theatre was supposed to be imaginary!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: What are you doing? You're supposed to move your arms in time with me...! You're my reflection! Get in time, you uncoordinated ape-face!
JUDGE: Who are you calling ape-face?! [Once again he launches towards BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA, and bangs his head on the imaginary mirror] Who are you? [He raises the candlestick to illuminate BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA's face] Ah, now I see you, you wretch?! But what on earth are you up to, with my robe, and my hat?!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Amazed] My reflection even talks of its own account?!
JUDGE: And why are you talking like that... With a man’s voice...
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: What d’you expect?
JUDGE: You must be drunk too!
He goes towards BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: What on earth are you doing? Reflections aren’t supposed to come out of mirrors!
Very agitated, BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA attempts to snatch the candlestick from the JUDGE and jostles him.
JUDGE: Get your hands off me, and take my robe off!
Finally BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA succeeds in taking the candlestick from him, and whacks him violently over the head. The JUDGE passes out, and sprawls across the bed.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: That'll teach you! Reflections should know their place! [He puts down the candlestick and feels his body] Sacripante...! What on earth have I turned into? What's happened to me?! I've got a horrible feeling something’s gone terribly wrong! [Shouting towards the fireplace] Francipante...! Maestro, help! What's happened? Come here! Help!
He disappears from the room for a moment, in search of FRANCIPANTE.
FRANCIPANTE comes tumbling down the chimney. He leaps through the frame of the non-existent mirror and moves it to the back of the stage.
FRANCIPANTE: I'm here! What’s the problem? Where are you?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I’m here. [So saying, she removes her robe] In this body... Actually, to tell the truth, I don't know where I am!
FRANCIPANTE: You idiot! You've gone and stuck yourself in the body of Pizzocca, his monkey-faced housekeeper! You were supposed to go up the Judge, you fool!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCA: Oh no... [She feels her face, breasts and thighs, and when she reaches her sex she shrieks:] It's true! I'm in a woman!! I've been switched! Waaah – how did that happen? You were there... you saw me... I went up the Judge!
FRANCIPANTE: Well, will you look at this disastrous idiot, who goes up people's backsides like he's blind, or something!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: You’ve got to rescue me! Get me out of this big turkey... Please...!
FRANCIPANTE: No can do, son! You know the laws of the Nether Regions. "Any devil taking possession of the body of a Christian has to stay there until he has completed his mission." So you’re going to have to stay with her. Change of plan. You reshape this lump of female from the inside. Like she’s pizza-dough. You got that?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Yes, Maestro. Change her from the inside. Change her into what, though?
FRANCIPANTE: Your job is no different to what it was. You're going to have to ruin this Judge. Corrupt him. Make him fall passionately in love with you!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: But I don't know how to make people fall in love!
FRANCIPANTE: Improvise! Turn her into a brawling strumpet. Teach her how to walk with a wiggle and a wave. But first of all, learn to talk like a woman, not with that voice of a drunken ox. Repeat after me: "I will become a sensual female!"
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: “I will become a sensual female!"
FRANCIPANTE: Can’t we have it a bit more... luscious?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I shall become a terribly talented female...
FRANCIPANTE: Well done! Bravo...! Try again! A bit more of the femme fatale...
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Beginning with a guttural voice, gradually she improves, until in the end she's speaking with PIZZOCCA's normal voice] I shall become a wicked, wicked temptress... Oh so languid... [Increasingly convinced of herself] And I shall make this Judge drunk with passion, make him mad with love. From this wrinkled old prune of a body I shall create a queen of lust!
FRANCIPANTE: Bravo – just carry on like that! Right. Now I’m afraid I have to leave you, Barlocco. I have another job to attend to...
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Oh no, don’t leave me, Maestro! Help! Who’s going to help me now?
FRANCIPANTE: You're on you own now, boy! Goodbye... And good luck!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Alas, poor me, poor innocent Devil, left all alone in this wicked world! [At this moment the watch chimes sound in his belly] Oh dear, oh no, the bells, it's time for the personality change... I'm feeling terribly sleepy!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA moves her body convulsively, gives a little twitch, goes rigid and passes out on the bed, next to the JUDGE, who is still out for the count.
Enter FRANCIPANTE, accompanied by SHE-DEVILS and HE-DEVILS.
FRANCIPANTE: Oh look, now, isn’t that sweet! Barlocco’s off to sleep and Pizzocca’s in charge of herself again. Look at the two of them. Like peas in a pod. Haha! Come to think of it, we could have a bit of fun, here. Why don’t we improvise a bit? Rearrange them a bit? Lying like that, they could almost be lovers... Except that they’ve got too many clothes on.
So saying, FRANCIPANTE and the DEVILS sing and dance, and quickly undress both the JUDGE and PIZZOCCA.They move them as if they are puppets, throwing their clothes in the air. They mark the rhythm by stamping and clapping, and letting out strange shouts. The whole scene becomes a kind of “tammurriata”. [Note 5]
You must be all naked!
As your mother made you.
All naked you must be!
To be naked is not a sin.
Take it off, remove it!
Take it off, remove it!
And that bodice, hat and hood,
Trousers and cloak,
Culottes and corset,
Take them off! Undo...
All naked you must be!
A general cackling and sniggering of DEVILS. The DEVILS contrive to re-arrange the JUDGE and PIZZOCCA into an embrace, with their arms and legs wrapped round each other. They cover them with the sheet. Then they close the curtains of the bed. They pick up the clothes from the floor, and then, still singing and leaping about, they exit.
The two GUARDS re-enter by the main door. They peer round looking for the JUDGE.
FIRST GUARD: [In a hushed voice] Hello... Your Honour... We couldn't find Pizzocca...
SECOND GUARD: Maybe he's in bed already... Gone to sleep. [They pull aside the canopy of the bed, and are amazed at what they see] Oh my God! Look, it’s Pizzocca, all lovey-dovey with his nibs!
FIRST GUARD: Maybe it’s true what they say – rub two old sticks together and you get fire!
SECOND GUARD: Look at them all wrapped up in each other!
Enter the CARDINAL, through the door, which was left open. Behind the CARDINAL enter a couple of DEVILS, who amuse themselves doing silly tricks during the dialogue.
CARDINAL: May I come in?
The two GUARDS swiftly close the curtains of the bed and rush to the door, pulling out their swords.
FIRST GUARD: Halt, who goes there!
CARDINAL: [He backs off, and pulls back his cloak to reveal his religious habit] Don't be alarmed! Put up your weapons, I am Cardinal Ambone!
FIRST GUARD: Oh, forgive me, your Eminence...
SECOND GUARD: [With a slight bow] At your service, sir!
CARDINAL: I've come hurrying over to find out about the Judge... I gather he was a bit drunk, coming back from the Duke’s...
SECOND GUARD: Could say that, your Eminence... Fell off his horse... Rolled down into a ditch.
CARDINAL: And was he badly hurt?
SECOND GUARD: I don't think so... In fact... could say he was up and riding again pretty quickly. Look.
He pulls aside the curtains to reveal the two of them in bed.
CARDINAL: Oh Lord God, look at that! Not with his creepy old housekeeper?!
SECOND GUARD: Maybe he uses her for a hot water bottle?
CARDINAL: He must be pretty desperate... Depraved, I’d call it.
[He lifts one edge of the sheet and peers under with morbid curiosity.
The FIRST GUARD pulls across a chair and offers it to the JUDGE]
SECOND GUARD: Do sit down, your Eminence.
[The CARDINAL goes to sit down, still holding up the edge of the sheet. One of the DEVILS snatches the chair away from under him and scampers off with it. The CARDINAL goes down with a tumble, and takes the two GUARDS with him. All three contrive to end up under the sheet, which covers them completely. The noise of all this wakes the JUDGE. He sits up in bed and suddenly realises that he is holding PIZZOCCA in his arms]
JUDGE: Eh? What's this?! Pizzocca! What on earth are you doing in my bed?!
PIZZOCCA: Er... Are you ready for lunch, sir?
CARDINAL: [Peering out from under the sheet] Please be understanding... It's a spectacle that doesn't happen every day!
JUDGE: Cardinal Ambone! What on earth are you doing in my bed? Have you been there long?
CARDINAL: No, I arrived just a moment ago... Unfortunately!
JUDGE: Oh, please... I know what you must be thinking. But it’s not like that!
CARDINAL: I'm sure it’s not!
JUDGE: And who's that under the sheet with you?
GUARDS: [Peering out from under the sheet. In unison:] We just hapened to be passing!
JUDGE: Pizzocca, I think you owe us an explanation.
PIZZOCCA: Oh, your Honour... I don't know what's come over me! Oh God... I've got no clothes on!
She snatches the sheet to her.
JUDGE: And I've got no clothes on either!! [He does the same] Oh, the shame of it! Your Eminence... I have to admit, I was drunk!
FIRST AND SECOND GUARDS: [In unison] Yes, we can vouch for that. He was drunk!
JUDGE: And I have my suspicions that you were drunk too, Pizzocca... On account of you were speaking with the voice of a man.
PIZZOCCA: Me, with the voice of a man?! But I couldn't... I am a lady!
JUDGE: Oh Lord, this is scandalous! You mustn’t let word of this get around!
GUARDS: [Ponderously] No, we won't say a word to anyone!
CARDINAL: You need have no fear... No one will ever know. Because this is a country where people mind their own business.
Lively musical interlude, which fades into the next scene.
On a barely-lit stage, we see flickering candlelight and swinging incense burners. As the lights come up, we see a kind of holy man. This is FATHER MIRONE. He is performing a massage on a GIRL afflicted with a hysterical crisis.
Enter PIZZOCCA. She gestures vigorously to FATHER MIRONE.
PIZZOCCA: Father Mirone, quick, I need you! You’re the only one I can talk to.
FATHER MIRONE: You’ll have to wait... I have a problem with this girl. She’s hysterical.
PIZZOCCA: I can assure you, I'm more hysterical than her... I'm about to burst!
FATHER MIRONE: [He continues massaging the GIRL] What's happened, what's the matter?
PIZZOCCA: Somebody's put the evil eye on me!
MIRONE: Evil eye? Oh dear... Very nasty... Tell me more!
PIZZOCCA: I found myself in bed... with the Judge... Imagine it... Naked! I did have a hat on, though!
MIRONE: Well hallelujah!
PIZZOCCA: And he was naked too... No clothes... And no hat, either!
A few YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN filter on from back-stage. MIRONE leaves the HYSTERICAL GIRL to their attentions. As the dialogue continues, they continue the massage.
MIRONE: [He changes tone] But were you making love?
PIZZOCCA: I don't know... I was asleep.
PIZZOCCA: Under the sheet there was me, the Judge, two guards, and the Cardinal!
MIRONE: Fascinating! Do tell. What were you all doing?
The HYSTERICAL GIRL is unobtrusively ushered off-stage. As the dialogue continues, the CHORUS gathers around MIRONE and PIZZOCCA .
MIRONE: A man's voice! You?
PIZZOCCA: Yes... in Neapolitan! I've never even been to Naples! [Note 6]
MIRONE: In Neapolitan?!
PIZZOCCA: No, it's true. I actually heard myself. Talking in Neapolitan, and with a man's voice...
MIRONE: I don’t believe it! When did this happen?
PIZZOCCA: I was just ringing a little bell. Like this... [She pulls from her pocket a small ritual bell] I was calling his Honour the Judge down for lunch... Like so.
She rings the bell, and we hear the voice of a sleepy BARLOCCO from inside PIZZOCCA.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Oh no... don't start waking me with that wretched bell again!
PIZZOCCA returns to speaking in her own voice.
PIZZOCCA: You hear that? A voice in my belly! D’you think I’ve been possessed by the devil?
MIRONE: Are you out of your mind? Don’t even think it... In times like these, they'll have you straight on the bonfire. Burned at the stake. Roasted! Without even peeling you first!
PIZZOCCA: Yes, I mean to say... But something worse has happened... I haven't even told you the worst...
MIRONE: And what would this worst be?
PIZZOCCA: I'll die of shame!
MIRONE: Forget the shame, just tell me. [He changes tone. Severely] Have you ended up pregnant?
PIZZOCCA: Worse! I've sprouted tits!
The CHORUS move in and form a circle round the two in order to facilitate the gag of inflating her breasts. They seem both shocked and amused.
MIRONE: Tits, now? At your age!
MIRONE: Why, didn't you get tits when you were a girl?
PIZZOCCA: Yes, but they were small... Squashed... They went in instead of out. But now they're growing like crazy...! Look! Look, right now... Aaargh! My tits are swelling! [She begins undoing her bodice. Realising that nothing is happening, she stops, and repeats the line more loudly] My tits are swelling! [A second's wait, and then, in the previous tone] My tits are not swelling! [She turns to a GIRL behind her, and steps out of character] What's happening?
GIRL FROM THE CHORUS: [Whispering] I can't find the tube!
PIZZOCCA: You can't find the tube...? [Her breasts suddenly begin to inflate] My breasts are... swelling!
She undoes her bodice to reveal two breasts, swelling visibly.
MIRONE: Oof... Miraculous melons!
CHORUS: Gloria in excelsis deo!
Two members of the CHORUS sound a fanfare from two trumpets.
MIRONE: And you're not happy?!
PIZZOCCA: But it's terrible, Father! I feel as if I've got someone under me, pumping me up. Look: they move! And when somebody comes in the room, they turn round and look. I've got inquisitive tits! And d'you know what's even more strange?
PIZZOCCA: I'm getting round bits round the back too. Look!
She turns round and lifts up her dress to reveal two visibly enlarged buttocks.
MIRONE: And are they afflicted with curiosity too?
PIZZOCCA: [Looking alarmed] Oh God... Now what's happening to me?
MIRONE: I tell you what, this might help.
FATHER MIRONE summons a GIRL FROM THE CHORUS. She places a small crown of flowers on PIZZOCCA‘s head.
PIZZOCCA: What’s that for?
MIRONE: Flowers. To ward off the evil eye. Does that feel any better?
PIZZOCCA: No sir...! I'm getting the shakes again!
MIRONE: What d'you mean, "the shakes"?
PIZZOCCA: I've been getting them for three days... It just takes me over... My legs, my knees, my sides, my arms... they all start moving of their own accord... It's as if I’ve got someone inside me moving me like a marionette... Look... My foot's tapping, my foot, my foot [She moves one leg repeatedly] and the other foot, [As above] and my arm... [She raises one arm, and in so doing she cuffs FATHER MIRONE] And look at my belly [Her belly moves in time with her thighs. Everyone on-stage begins to copy her, creating a musical rhythm] What is all this? Oh, goodness, it's wonderful!
MIRONE: [He calls out to his ACOLYTES] Here, everyone! It’s the tarantella! Come on, let’s dance! One, two three..
The GIRLS OF THE CHORUS put on shawls to cover their heads. A profusion of ribbons, leaves and flowers. The dance begins. Everyone on stage takes part, and they may play percussion instruments, wind instruments and viols. Fireworks go off. PIZZOCCA dances wildly in their midst. In a half-turn towards the wings, she may be substituted by a STAND-IN, who does double somersaults, one after the other. Everyone sings.
As the songs, shouting and music continue, the lights dim as everyone falls to the ground, exhausted. In the half-light they get up again and rearrange the stage for the Courthouse, in full view of the audience.
A trumpet sounds. The lights come up. The public take their place in the Courtroom. A GUARD beats on the floor with a long staff.
GUARD: Be upstanding for the Judge!
Enter JUDGE DE TRISTANO, followed by the INQUISITOR.
JUDGE: Let's begin! Call the first witness.
GUARD: She is a woman, your Honour. Her name is Jacoba Stareffa, and she says she was born in Crotone in Calabria.
JUDGE: We know her well. She comes of her own free will, so she has the right to testify from behind the screen.
[The GIRL enters, behind a screen, but emerges from behind it almost at once]
JACOBA: I don’t need that. I have nothing to hide... I am a woman of virtue, not like you, Judge, who promised not to haul me into the Courtroom, and now here I am!
JUDGE: I promised you on condition that you would tell the truth, but you have lied to me.
JACOBA: What lie, your Honour? I have given you visible proof... I have even bared my...
JUDGE: Your wounds... Yes, we have already seen them...
INQUISITOR: And what might these wounds be?
JACOBA: These breasts of mine!
She makes as if to bare her breast.
JUDGE: Cover yourself!
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE: [In chorus] No, don’t cover yourself! We want to see the wounds too!
Enter the CARDINAL. He is ushered to a seat by one of the GUARDS.
JUDGE: Silence, or I'll have you thrown out! [To JACOBA] Jacoba Stareffa, you are a liar! For a start, you swore to me that the Captain of the Guard was dead, killed in your arms...
JACOBA: But it's true!
JUDGE: And you also told me that his body was burned in the fire at the Cathedral...
JACOBA: And so it was!
JUDGE: Silence! Well perhaps you can explain how, this very morning, the guards of this court found him, isn’t this strange, in Crotone, in your home town, and very much alive and kicking!
JACOBA: Alive?! Have you really found him? Oh no, that’s impossible! It's a lie, a trap, to trick me!
JUDGE: Silence, or I really will trick you: into prison! Now, my girl, you're going to have to tell me the truth, because anyway this Captain, this resurrected lover of yours, has already told us everything we need to know. For instance, we now know that this whole charade, from the stolen statue of St George, to your making love in the sacristan's bed, right through to the alleged killing of the Captain, was an elaborate trick, to divert our attention from the real nature of the machinations behind the Cathedral fire.
INQUISITOR: Might one know more about the nature of these machinations?
JUDGE: Since you ask, sir, we are talking about the large profits which certain groups of people are going to reap from the rebuilding of the Cathedral, which they deliberately arranged to have set on fire!
INQUISITOR: Can you name names?
JUDGE: As of this moment, I can reveal to you that the shameful confraternity of these criminals is to be found among the city’s building contractors and in the person of the Archbishop himself.
CHORUS: The Archbishop?
CARDINAL: [Rising to his feet] Sir, you should be careful in your allegations.
JUDGE: We are familiar with the old proverb, your Eminence: "Blaspheme against Christ," they say, "and you will be forgiven. But accuse his Bishop, and you will be hanged!"
A murmuring among the BYSTANDERS in the Court.
CARDINAL: Listen to him, the blasphemer!
JUDGE: I am risking my neck here, but before you succeed in silencing me, I'll give you something to think about! In the evidence that I have sent to the Grand Council, I show how the leading lights of this city have been sitting down at a feast. The banks served the portions, and you, your Eminence, were the cook!
VOICE AMONG THE PUBLIC: He's very brave!
VOICE AMONG THE PUBLIC: If you ask me, he's done for!
VOICE AMONG THE PUBLIC: Nobody can save you now!
CARDINAL: No! This is unacceptable! This is a vile slander! What proof do you have? If it's all like the fairy tale that you were telling, about the Captain of the Guard suddenly coming back to life...
JUDGE: [To the GUARDS] Very well... Bring in the Captain. [The two GUARDS lead the CAPTAIN to the witness bench, closely guarded] Behold, the man!
JACOBA: Antonio...! My sweet love, you are alive! Oh, life of mine! A miracle! Let me embrace you!
She rushes to embrace the CAPTAIN.
JUDGE: Alright, you can spare us the play-acting.
WOMAN: Let me touch this Lazarus!
GUARD: [Stopping the WOMAN in her tracks] Go back to your place!
SECOND GUARD: [To JACOBA, who is screaming and trying to free herself] Stop pushing!
The PRISONER takes advantage of the kerfuffle to make his escape. He goes up the steps leading into the wings.
JUDGE: Look out... He's running up into the rafters!
VOICE OF A MAN: Catch him!
VOICE OF A WOMAN: Where can he go, though? That leads to the roof.
OTHER VOICE OF A MAN: If he gets up on the roof, they’ll never catch him.
A GUARD points an arquebus up at the skylight.
JUDGE: No, don't shoot! He's the only witness I have!
VOICE FROM THE AUDIENCE: Look, he's walking on the beams!
GUARD: Stay where you are!
The GUARD fires at the fugitive CAPTAIN. From the skylight we hear a scream, then the CAPTAIN falls from above and crashes to the ground with a thud. Obviously this is a puppet dressed to look like the CAPTAIN.
JUDGE: Damn you, you've taken away my only evidence!
GUARD: I only wanted to give him a warning, to stop...
JUDGE: Well, you stopped him a bit too damn much... Completely, in fact!
The GUARDS lift the CAPTAIN and carry him off stage, among the mourning laments of JACOBA and other WOMEN following the corpse.
My son, my breath...
My son, my breath...
You left me!
My breath... My breath...
JACOBA: Aaaah... Murderers! You killed him on purpose...! Oh, the pain...!
The BYSTANDERS come back into the courtroom.
INQUISITOR: [In stentorian voice] Silence! I demand that the proceedings be adjourned, in order that we can all recover from the shock of this incident, and also evaluate the very serious allegations that Judge De Tristano has advanced.
FIRST WOMAN: Who is that man?
OTHER WOMAN: The head of the Inquisition!
CARDINAL: Just a moment... I don't see any reason for adjourning... I and my office have been cast under the gravest of accusations by the lies of this hypocritical Judge, who masquerades as a saintly man, free of all corruption, yet has been found naked and in flagrante fornicating with his serving woman, before the very eyes of his guards... [A murmuring among the CROWD] ...who has other lovers all over the place, and who has even violated one of the witnesses!
JUDGE: And who is this witness that I'm supposed to have violated?
CARDINAL: This young girl who now stands before you...
THE PUBLIC: [These lines are spoken in unison]
Can it be true?
It wouldn’t surprise me!
I always suspected something. reckon he's the one!
The usual filth!
Where will it ever stop?
Re-enter JACOBA, like a fury.
JACOBA: Oh no! Don’t think you’re going to get away with this... You have killed my man... And now I'm going to give you the names of those who paid me to go to the Judge and show him my breasts in order to ensnare him!
CHORUS: Well said! That’s it... You tell ‘em, girl!
JUDGE: Oh Lord, I thank you, for giving me a new witness to my advantage!
All the audience in the Courtroom surround the GIRL and hide her from the view of the audience.
FIRST WOMAN: Tell us, say what you know!
OTHER WOMAN: Bravo! Speak out, girl!
GUARD: [Calling out] Your Honour, this girl has lost her head!
INQUISITOR: In what sense has she lost it?
FIRST WOMAN: Lost her head through love...
JUDGE: No. Through the knife! [From among the crowd, FRANCIPANTE tosses JACOBA's head to the JUDGE. At that same instant, the circle around the GIRL opens; we see the body of the woman, beheaded. The PUBLIC scream in horror. The JUDGE displays the head of the decapitated WOMAN in his hands, which is obviously a dummy head made up to look like JACOBA] It's true, Justice, like Fortune, is blind... But when it comes to chopping the heads off inconvenient witnesses, it sees, and it sees very well!
Blackout. The traverse depicting the Judge's palace is lowered.
Lights come up. Enter FRANCIPANTE.
FRANCIPANTE: [To the wings] Barlocco, hurry up! This is the moment. This is where you seduce the Judge... Hey, you look gorgeous! He’ll be putty in your hands!
Enter BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA, wearing an elegant bodice and lace bloomers. She wears a dazzling blonde wig.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I have to tell you, I feel like a Carnival queen!
FRANCIPANTE: I told you, you're magnificent!
Enter two SHE-DEVILS with a gown, which they put on BARLOCCO. Around his shoulders they place a long silk shawl, and then they put a fan in his hands.
FRANCIPANTE: Ladies and gentlemen, behold the marvel! The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly! But Barlocco, mind that you don't go becoming a woman for real! Because, don't forget, we devils can only play-act languors and sighs. If we do it for real, we’re cursed for all eternity. Take this fan, and wave it – not too much wind, though!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I really can't see what’s the point of going through with this charade. This Judge is completely done for anyway... They’ve completely discredited him... they've even chopped the heads off his witnesses... why are we even bothering?
FRANCIPANTE: You're right, he is pretty well done for. But he's still got a lot of people helping him, and supporting him, and that might end up saving him. So the time has come to deal the final blow! Look out, here he comes!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Looking towards the wings] Oh well, wish me luck.
FRANCIPANTE: [To the LITTLE DEVILS] You lot, vanish! [To the BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA] And remember, your whole reputation is at stake here!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I'm ready!
Enter the JUDGE. He turns to the windows of the Palace, and calls loudly for PIZZOCCA
JUDGE: Pizzocca! [He crosses paths with BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA, but does not recognise her. He has a moment of uncertainty, and then crosses back to her] Good day, madam... [To the windows again] Pizzocca, come down and open the door, I've forgotten my key. Pizzocca, where have you vanished to?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I haven't vanished anywhere... I'm here!
JUDGE: Madam, I do not know you... Who are you?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I am Pizzocca!
JUDGE: What do you mean, Pizzocca? She’s my housekeeper. You look nothing like her!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Of course... because I have always sacrificed myself for you, and disguised myself as an old bat! I have never shown myself as I really am. But now I've had enough!
JUDGE: And what about the Lombard dialect that you have always used?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: That was the dialect of my grandfather, a saintly man, from Lodi, who reared me and also educated me.
JUDGE: I don’t believe this! You mean to say, for all this time those stuffy old clothes have just been a disguise?
They walk towards the entrance to the palace, and the traverse depicting the front of the palace is raised. We find ourselves in the drawing room from previously. On-stage are DEVILS, who watch the proceedings.
JUDGE: Why, though? Why would you do that?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: So as not to provoke disturbances in you, Master. We all know that you live in mortal fear of the perils of the flesh.
JUDGE: That's no business of yours! And anyway, when and how could you have provoked "disturbances" in me?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [She flings open her cloak, and reveals two swelling breasts overflowing the daring decollete of her dress] With these, Master!
JUDGE: Ye gods!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: You like them? Eh? Do you really think that I could have waved them before you, this feast of breasts and buttocks? And how many laxatives would you have had to take then? You would have squittered yourself away down the toilet pan! Pardon the vulgarity!
JUDGE: Cover yourself up, please... And stop it... You won't trap me: this is all carnival trickery. It's a trick: those are balloons, blown up... with air!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Sir, in that case it remains only to touch them with your hand! [She grasps his wrists and pulls him to her] Touch me, sir, at your pleasure. If they are trickery, take them in your hands! Make the most of it, this show is for free!
JUDGE: [He tears himself furiously from the WOMAN's embrace, and moves abruptly away from her] No! No! Stop that!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Going over to him] Don't be frightened, Sir! There is nobody here.
JUDGE: These are mad times that we're living in! Everything's falling on my head! On one side they're coming down on me because I’m a threat to the rich and powerful... And on the other I'm accused of being a fornicator, because you climbed into my bed naked! But I don't remember ever seeing these breasts of yours! Now, tell me... Enough playing about! Who are you really?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I am a deeply sensual woman!
JUDGE: Have you gone out of your mind?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Yes, a deeply sensual woman. And the things I have done for you! Mortified myself, cancelled myself out, just to be close to you, and preserve your reputation intact!
JUDGE: My reputation? What do you mean?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Yes... During the daytime, in order not to give you disturbances, I disguised myself. I changed my appearance... I bound up my overflowing breasts, I pulled in my backside with murderour corsets... For thirty years I've hardly been able to breathe! I spoke with a Lombard dialect... I ate garlic and onions, in order to give myself a dog's breath. But the more ugly I made myself, the more my unbounded love for you grew!
JUDGE: Love for me?!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I am hugely, deeply passionate about you, Master... And in order to give rip to this passion... to give vent to the desires of my body... at night, while you were asleep I unleashed my bounden breasts and my abundant buttocks, and I went off, to the taverns, and I went with men...
JUDGE: With men? This is incredible! I'm all topsy-turvy! But how were you able to descend so far into lasciviousness and still continue living in my house?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: What do you mean?! What are you saying?! Lasciviousness?! For thirty years I have remained in your service... kneeling before you... disguised as the old, ignorant Pizzocca, just so as to stay close to you... And now that I am no longer capable of hiding my huge love for you, I reveal myself for what I am... I cry aloud my passion, and instead of taking me in your arms and drowning me in kisses you insult me! Offend me! Humiliate me!
Lasciviousness, you say! Is that all the Christian charity that you have? I have made myself a whore, and I weep in repentance, but you, hypocrite and so-called gentleman that you are, you condemn me... You stand with the Pharisees, Master. You were with Pontius Pilate, and you too washed your hands! Now I no longer love you, Judge...! Now I despise you... I hate you...! And I spit on you too! Pah!
She spits in his face, and leaves the stage.
The lights dim. Music. Enter other DEVILS, who rearrange the stage in full view of the audience.
Enter the CARDINAL and the INQUISITOR. They kneel together as if to pray. At the back of the stage we see FRANCIPANTE, who listens to everything with some amusement. Gregorian chant is heard in the background.
INQUISITOR: Your Eminence, I believe that this time, with the Captain coming down from the rafters, and the girl decapitated, we have perhaps gone a bit far! We should ease up.
CARDINAL: Perhaps. Maybe we should do like the bear did. It caught the rabbit, and the poor rabbit was terrified. So the bear began dancing on its feet like a clown, and then, when the rabbit relaxed and began falling about laughing, the bear, between one laugh and the next – gulp – swallowed it whole.
INQUISITOR: Good idea. But where’s the bear who’s going to do the dancing?
CARDINAL: A female bear. Pizzocca. She is coming to court to testify against De Tristano.
INQUISITOR: Pizzocca? His servant?
CARDINAL: The very one... The woman came to me... and offered her services... I hardly recognised her, she seems like a woman who has been liberated... She even speaks in Neapolitan.
INQUISITOR: Neapolitan? She must be liberated! So, Pizzocca the betrayer, comes to ruin her master! And I suppose this cost you a few gold coins?!
CARDINAL: Of course... I told her that as of this moment she is a free woman. And she made me promise a passport for her, so that she can flee as soon as De Tristano has been found guilty.
INQUISITOR: Betrayed and abandoned even by his servant! And then they say that the judge's profession is the best of all!
CARDINAL: Indeed... What patent nonsense!
Chucklng with delight they exit, in a gentle crescendo of Gregorian chant.
From an upper arch, stage left, FRANCIPANTE calls BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA in a loud voice. He arrives wearing PIZZOCCA's nightdress. During the dialogue between the two of them, the SERVING GIRLS prepare the JUDGE's bedroom.
FRANCIPANTE: Hurry up, because in a minute the clock will strike, and you're going to have to pass the body back to Pizzocca!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: All right... I'm going as fast as I can, but all these costume changes are getting a bit much.
FRANCIPANTE: Right. Let’s have a look at you – check the details.
FRANCIPANTE: When Pizzocca wakes up, she needs to find that she's back at the start.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: What do you mean, the start?
FRANCIPANTE: Doesn't matter if you don't understand... [The clock chimes] That’s it – bye-byes time... Enjoy the snooze!
The clock strikes. PIZZOCCA gives a shudder, kicks her legs about, and falls on the bed, sound asleep.
We hear the ringing of a bell. PIZZOCCA wakes up.
PIZZOCCA: [She looks around, in a daze] Oh goodness... what a sleep I've had! Where am I? Oh no – in the master’s bed again! Why do I always seem to wake up in the Judge's bed?! God, and what a dream I had...! I had two tits... Oh, what tits, oh, what a tittery... [She feels her breasts] I sprouted tits! I've still got them! All nice and round! Oh, a miracle!! Oh, Saint Agatha of the big tits, I thank you! [She realises that she still has the necklaces from the previous scene] The necklaces... I don't know if they’re a miracle of St Agatha, or if I just didn't manage to get them off during the scene-change, 'cos it was so quick... So maybe it wasn't a dream... Maybe some of it I dreamed, and some of it I really lived! The dancing, for instance, I'm sure that was real... And what a lot of dancing...! [She makes a dance step or two] I wonder if my evil eye has gone. And I wonder if I’ve still got a nice round bum!
She lifts up her nightshirt, revealing her backside, and twists herself round in a strange pantomime trying to look at her reflection in the mirror on top of the chest of drawer.
Enter the JUDGE. Ogling the woman from behind the mirror, he falls into a passionate frenzy.
JUDGE: Oh, my sweet Pizzocca...
PIZZOCCA: [She is alarmed, covers herself up, and as she turns round she sees the JUDGE] Oh, your Honour...! You gave me such a fright! I thought it was my bottom talking to me!
JUDGE: [Going over to her] My sweet Pizzocca... How lucky that you are here! I was scared that you had run away for ever!
PIZZOCCA: Me, run away, your Honour?!
JUDGE: Oh, I pray you... Enough of this pretending, and hurting each other!
PIZZOCCA: We have hurt each other?
JUDGE: Yes, dear Pizzocca!
PIZZOCCA: Oh, sir, you are losing your mind!
JUDGE: You called me Pontius Pilate...
PIZZOCCA: I called you a conscious pirate?!
JUDGE: And it's true... I am Pontius, a Pilate and a hypocritical Pharisee, but I will put all that behind me. I will stop taking laxatives and enemas... Now I open my heart to you... I declare myself. I am in love with you...
PIZZOCCA: Your Honour, just lie down on the bed, relax... I'll bring you a nice cup of tea...
JUDGE: No, Pizzocca... Let me embrace you!
PIZZOCCA: What are you saying, illustrious sir?!
JUDGE: [He seizes her and tries to embrace her] And enough of that crude dialect, like a Lombard peasant woman! Go back to speaking in that Neapolitan that so consumes me with pleasure.
PIZZOCCA: I have to speak in Neapolitan? That’s it – I hand in my notice now! [The JUDGE tries to embrace her] Don't squeeze me like that, your Honour...! I'm sweating all over!
JUDGE: Yes, that’s right, sweat, sweat, and let me sniff you. Let me get drunk on the smell! [He is literally on top of her. He flings open her nightdress and handles her inflated breasts. PIZZOCCA looks as if she is about to faint, but she puts up a desperate resistance] Lovely, these palpitating breasts of yours, which you kept hidden! They're mine! They're mine! All of them! [He tries to seize her breasts] Oh look at them... swelling to the touch... let me hold them!
PIZZOCCA: [Stopping him] Stop that! Get your hands off my new tits! [The JUDGE hauls her across towards the bed] No! Not on the bed! It's a sin! Your Honour... [Coming out of character] I've got my backside half hanging off the bed... You're crucifying me!
She refers to the inconvenient position in which she finds herself.
JUDGE: I'll pull you up!
He does as he says.
PIZZOCCA: Thank you! [Now she sits on the bed. The JUDGE attempts to handle her breasts again] That's enough, your Honour!
JUDGE: That’s enough "your Honour"... Call me Alfonso!
PIZZOCCA: At once, sir. [She calls into the wings] Alfonso, the Judge wants you!
JUDGE: Who are you calling? I'm Alfonso!
PIZZOCCA: Oh yes... You’re Alfonso... [As above] It’s alright, forget Alfonso, we've found him... He was here all the time!
JUDGE: That's enough! You're making fun of me, you cruel whore!
PIZZOCCA: What did you say?!
JUDGE: A little while ago, didn’t you tell me that you’re a deeply sensual woman?
JUDGE: And didn’t you tell me that you went with men?
PIZZOCCA: Did I?
JUDGE: Yelping like a bitch on heat, you said.
PIZZOCCA: Bitch?! [She succeeds in liberating herself for a moment] You called me a bitch!
JUDGE: Yes! Let me hear your yelping!
PIZZOCCA: What, like a dog?
PIZZOCCA: I'm not sure if I can do it very well... I’m a bit out of practice... [She howls like a dog, positioning her neck and body in the manner of a dog howling at the moon] Oooooooooh!
JUDGE: Sublime! Oh, Pizzocca, you drive me wild! Come to me, vile she-wolf of the crossroads!
He pulls across the curtains of the bed. From his grunts and her protests we gather that they are doing naughty things together There is music, and the BED exits slowly from the stage, in a paroxysm of musical crescendo.
A large arras is brought on-stage, to act as the backdrop for the Courtroom. Enter the INQUISITOR, followed by the GUARDS, the CROWD, FRANCIPANTE and JUDGE DE TRISTANO, who is in chains and wearing a prisoner's outfit. Trumpets sound.
INQUISITOR: Silence in court! [To JUDGE DE TRISTANO] The Council of the Inquisition accuses you of having cast vile slanders upon the leading figures and honest men of this city, inducing the grave suspicion that they conjoined in a conspiracy to burn down the Cathedral in order to extract from it ignoble profits by speculation.
JUDGE: But I showed you the written evidence for all that!
Murmuring among the crowd.
INQUISITOR: Silence! Furthermore, the aforementioned Judge is accused of demeaning his high office through fornication and the violation of female witnesses.
JUDGE: That is a blatant and premeditated lie!
Murmuring among the crowd.
INQUISITOR: We shall begin with hearing the witnesses! Call Pizzocca Ganassa, servant of the accused.
Enter BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA. She crosses the courtroom with the bearing of a grand lady, wearing the fancy clothes that we saw previously. She is accompanied by a GUARD. She winks at the JUDGE, blows him a kiss, and goes to sit on the witness bench. A ferment and chattering among the public.
JUDGE: [Dumbfounded] Pizzocca, what on earth are you up to?!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Relax, sugar-plum!
FIRST WOMAN: God, she's looking tasty. She looks like another woman!
SECOND WOMAN: Surely it can't be her... It must be her younger sister.
FIRST WOMAN: A bit of a trollop, if you ask me.
GUARD: Order! Silence in court!
INQUISITOR: Tell us, Pizzocca, do you and the Judge enjoy relations of intimacy?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Yes, your Honour, I have had a passion for him for quite a while, and I think I can say that he feels the same about me.
Murmuring among the crowd.
INQUISITOR: And would these sentiments also be carnal in nature?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Coming down from the witness bench] I wouldn't know, Sir. You wish to know if we have embraced in intimacy, with quiet passions...
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Going over to where the JUDGE stands in his chains] No sir, we did not.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: We romped all over each other, in a frenzy of passion, and we gave each other such satisfaction that even the bed on which we performed our sin... was creaking with passion and wanting more.
Shouting, laughter, a bustle of movement and applause. FRANCIPANTE also applauds.
MAN: Will you listen to her!
OTHER MAN: I'd like to have been the bed!
WOMAN: Bravo, Pizzocca!
JUDGE: Damn you! You’ll get me burned at the stake!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Relax, sugar-plum!
INQUISITOR: Silence, or I'll have you all thrown out! [To PIZZOCCA] And are you also aware of the fact that your employer has attempted to violate a female witness?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Violate a girl, sir? Yes, they gave me the full story of that.
INQUISITOR: Who told you the story? We want names!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Er – the Cardinal, sir.
CHORUS: The Cardinal?!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: He told me all the details, and then he paid me lots of money!
MAN: That's disgraceful!
OTHER MAN: Hardly surprising, though!
FIRST WOMAN: Quite normal!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: He paid me to come here and tell the whlole story before the court!
CARDINAL: You liar! It's a lie! You're under arrest, I’ll have you flogged! [To PIZZOCCA] Whore!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: A whore repented, sir!
CARDINAL: Show me the proof that I paid you!
INQUISITOR: This is hardly the language for a Cardinal!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: [Showing a small chest of money] There’s the money!
INQUISITOR: And how is one to recognise the provenance of this money? Is the name of its donor perhaps written all over it?
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Your Honour, what you say is true... The money provides no evidence of its source. However, there are these earrings... and necklaces... rings and bracelets, which the Cardinal gave me in addition... and on each of those one can easily discover the donor. For instance, the engraving on this ring: [She reads] "To Clarissa, with all my love, Giovanni Piccolo."
FIRST WOMAN: That came from me! That's my ring! I gave it to the Cardinal, for the Cathedral building fund!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: And then there’s this very distinctive necklace with the dark green gems?
MAN: That looks like the one I donated.
JUDGE: Oh, Pizzocca, you have saved me!
Shouting, applause, insults and laughter among the crowd. BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA wraps herself up, covering herself from head to toe in a large cloak.
FIRST WOMAN: The usual bunch of swindlers!
SECOND WOMAN: The Judge is not guilty! Lock up the Cardinal!
CHORUS: Now the lid’s off the sewer! Let the swindlers and liars be put in chains!
INQUISITOR: Silence, or you'll all be out! Be quiet! [The noise slowly subsides, and the voice of the INQUISITOR rises above it] Pay attention and listen! By judgement of this Tribunal, it is ordered that Judge Alfonso Ferdinando De Tristano be absolved of all the charges.
CHORUS: Hooray for justice!
INQUISITOR: And a new Inquiry shall be opened into these crimes.
All the participants in the trial surround PIZZOCCA, hiding her from the audience’s view.
CHORUS: Well done... At last... A woman who’ll stand up for herself!
INQUISITOR: You, Pizzocca, are under arrest for having made a mockery of the high office of magistrate. Put her in irons! Lock her away!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Don't touch me! Leave me alone. I have a safe-conduct!
The circle around PIZZOCCA opens. As the GUARD comes towards her to put her in chains, the shawl falls open, and instead of PIZZOCCA we find a small DEVIL, who leaps here and there, giving mocking cries and then escapes. There is laughter among the crowd, and then everyone, including the arras and except FRANCIPANTE and BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA, exits.
The MASTER DEVIL FRANCIPANTE grabs BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA as he tries to escape by hiding behind the arras as it is carried off-stage. A new arras is now brought on-stage by various DEVILS. It portrays scenes of hell. From behind it, out pop the heads of various other DEVILS, who watch the trial of BARLOCCO.
FRANCIPANTE: You, bastard, traitor, worse than Judas, where do you think you're running off to? Come here!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Leave me alone, Maestro! Let me go!
FRANCIPANTE: Stop right there! You may think you’re very clever, but let me tell you, you’re done for. You just wait...
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: I admit it, maestro, I failed in my mission.
FRANCIPANTE: Your orders were to ruin and corrupt this Judge, but you went and did the opposite. You saved him!
CHORUS OF DEVILS: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: But I never expected to end up stuck in a woman’s body.
CHORUS OF DEVILS: He never imagined...!
FRANCIPANTE: Stuck? Don't put the blame on the body. You wretch. You had a lovely time in that woman, a whale of a time!
CHORUS OF DEVILS: A lovely time! A lovely time!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: And I still remain possessed!
CHORUS OF DEVILS: [Disappointed] Ooooh hoooo!
FRANCIPANTE: Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you of the dangers!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Oh yes, you warned me... But tell me, Maestro, have you ever lived in a woman's body?
FRANCIPANTE: No, never.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: Do you not know that anyone who takes on a woman's body also wears her heart... her emotions... her passions?
FRANCIPANTE: No, that I did not know.
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: So you're not such a good Master devil after all... Really you're just a poor devil like the rest of us!
CHORUS OF DEVILS: [Mockingly] A poor devil! Hee, hee!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: And since you are just a poor devil... who are you to judge and condemn me? You trapped me in this woman’s love... and now you are surprised that I was swept away by it! Well fair enough, I understand. This is like the justice of men. Whichever way you turn, you always end up guilty! So now go ahead and dissolve me in the infernal shite, and let's have an end to it!
FRANCIPANTE: Oh no! That would be too easy – too convenient! Shall I tell you what your real punishment is going to be? You are going to remain locked in the body of that woman forever!
CHORUS OF DEVILS: [Tremendous general laughter] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
BARLOCCO-PIZZOCCA: But is that a sentence, Maestro, or is it a gift?
CHORUS OF DEVILS: [As above] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Everyone exits, taking the arras with them.
Enter JUDGE DE TRISTANO.
JUDGE: [He addresses the audience directly] I imagine that you will be curious to find out how it went with my trial... Actually, it went very well! And so, here I am, found not guilty of all the accusations, including having sullied the honour of the “good” men of this city. But then the Tribunal of the Inquisition opened a new Inquiry... Into what? Into whom? Guess... Into the crime of the Cathedral fire? Into corruption in the builders’ corporation? Into the archbishopric? No. Into me...! And in particular into my suspected affiliation with the religious sect of Michele da Lentini. They dragged me through four trials, together with the heretics... In the end, Michele and three of his followers were sentenced to burn at the stake... which is a regular event, to celebrate the burning of Savonarola. But not me! Out of respect for my past profession as a judge, I was sentenced only to be hanged. Aha! But then a miracle happened.
Trumpets sound. Enter the INQUISITOR, from stage right.
INQUISITOR: [To a roll of drums] Silence in court. Hear ye, hear ye: By intervention of His Magnificence the Duke in person, who has granted him a pardon of his life, this sentence is to be commuted to five years in the galleys. This means that De Tristano will be shipped aboard a galley or ship of the dukedom as an oarsman, for the duration of his sentence!
JUDGE: Well, see how well it's all turned out! Today’s my lucky day!
Enter the two GUARDS, the OARSMEN, and the PRISON WARDER, who is HELMSMAN of the galley.
FIRST GUARD: Take this oar, and prepare to row!
HELMSMAN: Raise your oars, and prepare to row!
JUDGE: Just a moment, this is the point where we do the farewell speech!
CHORUS OF OARSMEN: The what?
JUDGE: It's the speech that closes the show... The summing-up, if you like.
CHORUS OF OARSMEN: Oh alright, fair enough.
The GUARDS, OARSMEN etc leave the stage. Only the JUDGE remains.
JUDGE: [To the audience] It's alright, don't panic! Don’t think that I’m about to serve up a sermon on the impossibility of extracting men from their endless games of wickedness... And then conclude with the hoary old chestnut that "well, what do you want, there's nothing to be done... that's the way the world is!"
No! I want to finish by talking of you, the audience, of those who have followed our show, and enjoyed it, laughing where appropriate, and in order to let it be understood that they are more than usually intelligent, they grasp and immediately understand every joke and allusion... They don't even let us finish the sentence... "Ha, ha!" So that all the rest who are a bit slow are mortified, and laugh without knowing why.
Then there's the person who, in order not to be shown up, laughs at the beginning of every sentence, even the most tragic. [He pauses] Then there's the one with his wife next to him explaining all the jokes... And there's the one who laughs as he's going out of the theatre, because he's finally understood the joke! Then there's the jolly fellow who claps away, and his wife hisses at him: "What are you doing? It's you that the actor is making fun of!" And he, in order not to let anyone see, pretends to be dusting off his face and sleeves, and doesn't laugh again for the whole evening.
No, I would most like to make a dedication to those who aren't here this evening... or, if they are here, are well disguised and hidden. I refer to those members of the audience who laugh only if they are very sure that the joke is at someone else's expense, and never mind who it is. As long as the joke is about those who have a different way of speaking, or who come from another country, who are different, who have another smell, another colour... Of their face, or feet, and who enjoy blowing raspberries at them and shouting: "Go back to your own country!" ... "Go home!" And if there happens to follow some throwing of stones, or a good kicking, it's really a lot better. I'm talking about those people who at every opportunity spout: "We are the master race, we are the best! We are the brainiest, the smartest, the cleverest, and the most in-tune*... And we've got the biggest..." understandings, of course...
In short, I am speaking of imbeciles, which is a race apart! The imbeciles who at every opportunity wave flags and sing national anthems... and who seem to think that they’re making history! Those that launch themselves against anyone who comes from the other side of the river. The imbeciles who are incapable of listening to any point of view other than their own. The imbeciles who applaud any act of theft, and who say: "This new leader may be a thief, but if he steals for himself, he may allow us to steal a bit too!" The imbeciles who contrive to produce tremendous disasters, but never notice a thing! [He pauses] And I would conclude that I, personally, I far prefer professional criminals to run-of-the-mill imbeciles. Yes, because criminals take a break every once in a while... but imbeciles, never!
Enter the PRISONERS, including the JUDGE. Each of them holds a long oar. The proscenium is occupied for its entire width by oarsmen, standing about a metre apart. The CHIEF HELMSMAN orders them to sit to their oars.
HELMSMAN: Let’s have you! Get your oars in the water. Prepare to row. Anyone who doesn't row properly or who’s out of time gets a whipping! Right, rooooow!
All the OARSMEN extend their oars towards the audience and begin to row. We hear the rowers' song, growing in intensity:
CHORUS: The wind goes through the plains.
It comes down from the mountain to the valley,
And loses itself in the sea.
The weather changes with the moons,
The storm changes the river,
Only the sun never changes.
A sad thing is the man who does not change,
Who does not live the seasons,
Who remains forever static.
No amount of killing makes him angry.
He doesn't leave himself open, nor does he lament,
And when he dies, nobody weeps,
It is as if he had never been born.
The procession of OARSMEN moves across the proscenium and disappears into the wings. Meanwhile, at the back of the stage, MEN and WOMEN, some of whom may be PUPPETS, wave them farewell. Enter a small rowing boat, following the galley at speed. On board the boat is PIZZOCCA.
PIZZOCCA: Alfonso, wait for me... Alfonso, I love you! Alfonsooooo!
As the rowing boat disappears into the wings, the lights slowly dim
1. In the original play, the sheets were used for a shadow-theatre effect, so that the characters paraded behind the sheets, illuminated from behind. This effect was also used elsewhere in the original.
2. Here you may feel free to change the terminology if you find it excessively (or indeed not sufficiently) vulgar.
3. If a flying Pizzocca is beyond your technical means, the action may be simplified.
4. This play was written in part as a vehicle for Franca Rame. This explains the use of a stand-in at a certain point. The stand-in is an optional extra.
Incidentally, it is my opinion that a lot of fun could be had by having Pizzocca (and hence Barlocco-Pizzocca) played throughout by a male.
5. The tammurriata is a wild drumming-singing kind of thing, to be found in Southern Italy. I can provide recorded examples of such a thing, should they be required.
6. You may prefer to change some of the place-name references. For example, the recurring joke about Pizzocca speaking Neapolitan.
7. The original of Il Diavolo... was performed in North Italian dialect. I have translated it into standard English. However, we would welcome dialect or local regional versions.
8. There’s nothing worse than English productions of Italian plays with the names mis-pronounced. If you are in doubt, write the names on a piece of paper and take them to your local pizza parlour, where somebody should be able to help you.
9. The scenery and stage settings for this play can be as simple or as complicated as you care to make them. In some places, a painted traverse is called for (eg end of Act I Sc 4), as in English pantomime. This can be elaborate, or a simple canvas on poles carried by two people. The courtroom and the Judge’s apartments may also be elaborate – period furnishings – or simple – imaginative use of boxes, steps etc. The important thing is to achieve a sense of a Renaissance stage-setting.
10. My brief in translating Il Diavolo con le Zinne in this version for the National Theatre has been to remain as close as possible to a literal rendering of Fo’s play, but to cut its running time by half. No mean undertaking! Some of the ruder bits have also been cleaned up.
11. If you have any comments or queries regarding the text, songs, music etc, I can be contacted at: ed.emery @ thefreeuniversity..net
All rights reserved. This text shall not by way of trade or otherwise be copied, reproduced or recorded in a retrieval system. Nor shall it be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the owners' specific written consent.
Please be aware that this translation can only be performed with explicit permission in writing from the agency representing Dario Fo and Franca Rame, the Danesi-Tolnay agency in Rome.
Last updated: 6.viii.2012