A Parent’s Review: We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!
Intiman’s current show We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! is full of laughs, hijinks and pratfalls. It is the physical comedy of the show that widens its audience pool to the tween market. While Intiman Theatre may not immediately come to mind when thinking of a family night out, each season includes at least one show that appeals to a younger audience.
We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, a play by Dario Fo, premiered in 1974 and is set in the middle of hard economic times in Italy. The main characters are two families whose husbands work in the local factory. The wives are dealing with running their households on shrinking paychecks during ever-rising prices for everything. When we meet them, they are already several months behind on rent and struggling.
Antonia is at the Supermarket when shoppers become enraged at the increased prices. There is an uprising and the shoppers decide to pay what they want, and some, not at all. Antonia arrives back at the apartment with more groceries than she has ever had before. Her friend Margherita arrives and helps her hide the food as the police are now searching for the rioters.
Running of out hiding places, Margherita ends up hiding the last bag inside her coat and faking a pregnancy. Now the action starts to spiral out of control as Antonia is forced to make up crazier and crazier stories to hide the groceries and her presence at the uprising and maintain the farce of Margherita’s pregnancy.
The best part of the play is undoubtedly Adam Standley, who plays the city cop, the state trooper, the undertaker and the grandpa. His physicality on stage with tumbling, hilarious mannerisms and exaggerated accents is the heart of the show. He is so effective at presenting the different characters with his movements and voice that it took my 9-year-old daughter a few scenes to realize it was the same person.
Director Jane Nichols and Fight Director Geof Alm should be complimented for all of the choreography on stage. The scene where Antonia and Margherita hide the State Trooper in the closet is physical comedy at its best. Of course, Adam Standley’s gumby-like flexibility makes it all possible. This was one of my daughter’s favorite scenes, although it also had her on the edge of her seat worried that the women would get in trouble.
While there is little doubt that such physical comedy and slapstick confusion would appeal to most kids ages 10 and older, parents should determine their own tolerance for profanity before buying tickets to this one. There is some adult language peppered throughout the entire play, but it stays with the most common of curse words and does not approach anything like sailor talk. Still, it is there, loud and clear and unmistakable.
The play also brings with it the topics of desperation and hunger that can be explored in further conversations. It remains firmly in the comedy field while showing these all too common and human experiences. The fact that characters eat canned cat food and make birdseed soup is used to great comedic effect while still providing small pauses for the reality of the situation to seep it.
All in all, the play is a wild ride that leaves you laughing and almost as out of breath as the characters.
Photo credits: Adam Standley (State Trooper et. al.) and Tracy Michelle Hughes (Antonia) - cover photo; Kylee Rouselot (Margherita) and Tracy Michelle Hughes (Antonia); G. Valmont Thomas (Luiggi) and Burton Curtis (Giovanni). Photos by Chris Bennion.
If You Go...
Where: Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St., Seattle.
When: Now through Sept. 14.
Age Recommendation: Intiman staff recommend the show for everyone age 10 and older.
Cost: General admission $35, seniors $30, ages 13 to 25 $20, ages 12 and younger free with purchased adult tickets.
Contact: www.Intiman.org, 206-441-7178.