In 1974, celebrated performer and playwright Dario Fo premiered his absurdist, highly political play
We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! A few months later, several Italian women were arrested for stealing food from a supermarket. The prosecutor in the case attempted to draw Fo into the trial as an accessory to the thefts because his play featured as its inciting incident a mass-theft from a supermarket.
Thankfully, the judge sagely absolved Fo of any responsibility for these crimes. Fo’s depiction of a hunger strike orchestrated by a group of poverty-stricken Italian may have the flavor of documentary, but is fueled by its satire and painfully funny slapstick.
Fo wastes no time as the play opens in Antonia’s apartment, where Antonia and her friend Margherita enter loaded down with groceries filched from a local store. Thus begins the conspiracy to hide their crimes from their husbands, Luigi and Giovanni. (The latter, an avowed enemy of dissent and disorder, is guaranteed to respond with total disapproval.)
Using his own commedia-inspired methods, Fo tells a story of struggle in a world of rising prices and increased repression of dissent. Do not be fooled, however, into thinking that this play is stale propaganda. Dario Fo definitely wears his politics on his sleeve, but the generous and hilarious spirit of his comedy makes this a lively piece of political satire. And as the characters’ situation grows dire, there is also the potential for real pathos.
Scenes/Monologues: Numerous monologues and scenes for both men and women.
Recommended by: Adam