In Dario Fo’s They Won’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!, economic desperation and tough working conditions set the stage for work stoppages and grocery store riots. On one particular day that sees both, Antonia happens to be at the local grocer’s when the shoppers – outraged by further increased prices – decide that they will set their own prices this time. Caught up in the moment of pay what you can groceries, Antonia comes home with bags and bags of food – including for pets she doesn’t own.
Her trouble, she realizes when the fervor wanes, is that her dudley do-right of a husband will divorce her, turn her in, and/or lock himself in the cupboard if he finds out what she did.
So a lie is born.
And once the lies start to grow, they spiral and swell and snowball until they’ve reached a hysterically dizzying speed and the first act is already over. Often, when attending a play, you can be like, okay, that felt like an hour. Some feel longer. Some, much longer. Those times when you’re really lucky, you get to say, wait, it can’t have been an hour already.
The second act? It picks right up where the first left off and just keeps on trucking. The play does get a touch absurd, the end gets a wee bit preachy, and I personally didn’t care for the self referential fourth wall nods, feeling that they took away more than they added, but on the whole, this show is a gem. (And a steal at $10 tickets.)
The cast do a superb job for the most part. The secondary characters, are, well, secondary characters, but the success and skill of the leads (under Mary Ellis’ direction) are fully to credit for the praise above.
Tristan Wong and Jared DeVries are delightful as the hapless husbands, but it’s Emi Lanthier and Charlotte Weeks who really drive this piece as Antonia and her best friend Margherita, sucked into the tornado of lies and insanity that Antonia spreads. Their presence, physicality, and timing are on point and their game is stronge. If there’s a sequel for these two, sign me up now.
All together, They Won’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! is the funniest and most entertaining piece of theatre I’ve seen in months. In fact, while writing this I think I’ve talked myself into going to see it a second time. You should drop what you’re doing and do the same.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Was the second act too OTT? What was your favourite moment? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.
They Won’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! runs until Sunday March 6th at Algonquin College and then it’s gone. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1551849855136505/