Few years ago, in a pub in Covent Garden I met a young Italian-American boy during the football match Juventus – Naples. I asked him why he was supporting Naples being American and he said, almost with shame, that his grandfather was a Neapolitan; but that he always told him not to tell anyone or else everyone would have thought he was a mobster.
Last year, on BBC 4, the last episode of the Young Montalbano told one of most sad, shameful and bloody chapter of Italian history: the bombing attack on the judge Giovanni Falcone and his armed escort, a few kilometers from Palermo known as the Massacre of Capaci.
With the humor typical of the Italian-style comedy (Fellini, Risi, Monicelli), Minchia Signor Tenente tells the story of this dark chapter of Italian history.
Written by Italian actor Antonio Grosso, the title is a clear reference to the song that won the 2nd place at the Sanremo Festival in 1994 sung by writer Giorgio Faletti. Although it was presented in 1994, it is clear the reference to the Massacres of Capaci and Via D’Amelio. The song wants to be a denunciation of the working conditions of the police (especially the Carabinieri, one of the Italian Police Forces) in a period when it was still alive the “echo” of the ’92 bombs. The use of the word “fuck”, this repeatedly in the text, and the Sicilian accent which is sung the song make it clear references to the Cosa Nostra Mafia; more generally, these details underline how deeply is felt this situation in southern Italy.
Antonio Grosso knows well the Carabinieri reality as a huge part of his family is part of this Italian Police Force and Minchia Signor Tenente, in addition to being an entertaining play is also an important play for the message it wants to leave and tell; a show where we talk about the mafia massacres; a play not to forget.
Set in a really small town in Sicily, a place where “you can fall in love with the wind notes“, in the little Carabinieri station (as in the small town) nothing ever happen. Days gone by in a boring routine broken only by the almost constant presence of an old and a little ‘scatterbrain’ resident convinced that the whole town is against him. As the title of another famous Italian song, brilliantly interpreted a cappella by the cast, points out: everything else is yawn.
And some of the young Carabinieri begin to dream to be in Palermo where at least there is “din”.
Something changes when two of them, lance corporal Milito and Merilli (close to marriage and to be transferred to the North, in Bergamo) are chosen to escort a judge. Nothing, for none of them, will ever be the same because “when this country asks for blood can not help but put your head down.”
Minchia Signor Tenente closed last weekend its eighth year of tour, with a last performance in Turin, after more than 250 nights run and more than 50,000 members of the audience.
On stage an outstanding cast. Besides the already mentioned Antonio Grosso, also Gaspare Di Stefano, Francesco Nannarelli, Francesco Sigillino, Federica Carruba Toscano, Antonello Pascale, Ariele Vincenti and the extraordinary Natale Russo.
After a heartbreaking rundown of pictures of victims of the Mafia, as after every show, Antonio Grosso read a letter written by the brother of Magistrate Paolo Borsellino (also a victim of the Mafia in 1992 in Via D’Amelio) written for this play which tells about Paolo Borsellino‘s diary, the Red Diary that mysteriously disappeared after the massacre of Via D’Amelio. In the months preceding the massacre, Paolo Borsellino brought part of the contents of its investigative interviews on a red diary received as a gift by the Carabinieri. The Magistrate put his diary in his leather bag shortly before going in via D’Amelio that 19 July 1992. The leather bag was found intact after the explosion and were found some personal items but not the diary. Who has it can now use it as a powerful instrument of blackmail against those who, mentioned in the diary, have come to terms with the criminal organization.
You can find more about the Agenda Rossa (Red Diary) Movement here: www.19luglio1992.com
“Who is afraid dies every day, who is not afraid only die once” (Paolo Borsellino)
Antonio Grosso and the Red Diary (photo by Rita Rossi)