“We Won’t Pay!” Review

By Alyssa Earnest, Staff Writer

“‘We Won’t Pay!,’ an English version of an Italian play put on by the Contra Costa College theater department, is a funny and refreshing piece that everyone in the family can enjoy and is worth seeing if you have the time.

The staff and students have been working on this play for over two years, starting casting back in January 2020. The play is an English version of Dario Fo’s,  “Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!” which was originally written in Italian. The play is a portrayal of people pushing against high prices and dealing with job downsizing. The topics are sad, but the play includes plenty of comedy throughout.

The play seems timely due to what is going on with the economy due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, so some scenes within the play hit a bit close to home. The play is around an hour and 45 minutes, with an intermission in the middle which didn’t feel too long thanks to the comedy.

The story begins with two of the main characters, Antonia and Margherita, arriving home from a trip to the supermarket. Antonia tells the story of how she and the women at the supermarket weren’t happy with the increased prices of groceries and ended up revolting against the store manager and “only paid the amount they wanted to.” Antonia stresses about what to do with the stolen groceries she has and drags Margherita into creating a huge charade in order to hide the stolen groceries from her very upstanding husband, Giovanni.

The charade continues, including a fake pregnancy that embroils the two women’s husbands in the ruse. Margherita, eventually involves our other two main characters, Giovanni and Margherita’s husband, Luigi. We are taken through the events of Antonia trying to keep up the lie so she won’t get in trouble with Giovanni. This leads us to a conversation between Luigi and Giovanni and how their jobs are getting downsized or let go. This news makes Giovanni decide to screw his uprightness and help Luigi steal some expensive coffee beans that fell off the back of a truck. The last scene is of the truth all coming out about the fake pregnancy and the coffee beans and our characters are finally given the relief of not having to lie to their partners.

The plot of the play is essentially a revolt against the government increasing the prices of things and a portrayal of how the price increases are fine for the rich and privileged, but the less fortunate are forced to struggle to pay rent or keep the lights on. “We Won’t Pay” is a pretty exact parallel to what’s going on today in our society and parallels our average feelings towards the government. This play hit very close to home now more than ever.

From the theme of the play to the dialogue and plot, the production is all the more entertaining. There were bits in the play where the fourth wall was “broken” and it made the play all the more enjoyable due to its self-awareness. The actors kept in character the whole time and I didn’t notice any hiccups in forgetting lines. One minor issue I had with the play was that while I could hear the sound effects coming from the back, I don’t know if the people in the front row would be able to hear them due to how quiet they were. I feel that if you utilize the surrounding speaking in the auditorium, the experience could be the same for everyone.

I would rate this play a 3.5 out of 5 stars. The play was funny and was almost poignant due to the aforementioned events that are going on currently. While the play wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea because I personally prefer dramatic plays like novelas, I did enjoy sitting and watching the production. I would recommend going and seeing the play if you have a chance.