Play: They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!
Venue: York Theatre Royal
Review by: Julia Pattison
Playwright Deborah McAndrew has reworked Dario Fo’s redrafted 1974 play Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! a satire focusing on a “story of economic hardship, generated by one stratum of society and visited upon another”, and has created a new version of his satire with a bespoke and contemporary northern voice.
Relocated to northern England, we are thrust into unemployed Anthea’s world (Lisa Howard) who, having to choose between food or fuel, and desperate, as she was behind on her rent and unable to find work, joined a group of looters at Aldi and needed to hide her ill-gotten gains from her straight-laced husband Jack (Steve Huison).
Jessica Worrall’s design of Andrea’s flat was most realistic - you really felt you were up in a high rise flat with her.
The farce began well and truly when Andrea managed to persuade her reluctant young neighbour Maggie (Suzanne Ahmet) into helping her hide their loot from the police. Michael Hugo excelled in his frantic role swapping as a sympathetic Constable, then later on as a Sergeant(complete with errant moustache used to great comic effect) Undertaker and ‘Pops’. Steve Huison proved to be a master of comic timing too; the corpse scene was hilarious.
Lisa Howard was wonderfully manic as highly imaginative and at the end of her tether Andrea, and successfully broke down the ‘fourth wall’ with her painful puns and asides.
As director Conrad Nelson wrote in the programme “Comedy always works best when juxtaposed with tragedy” and this was very much the case, so why not let the situation speak for itself rather than have characters suddenly preaching at the audience?