We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!

This production of a classic protest play fails to capture the original's mania


Through Oct. 19

Tickets are $10-18

(510) 704-8210

Eighth Street Studio, 2525 Eighth St. (between Dwight and Parker), Berkeley

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Dario Fo's classic protest play about Italian housewives who ransack a supermarket because all they can afford on their husbands' wages are dog food and birdseed has played locally two or three times since Fo won the Nobel Prize in 1997. It is, of course, funny. It even has something in common with the American political slapstick of John Guare (see above) and Jules Feiffer. It's notoriously hard to do right, though, because Fo has an irrational peasant energy that sends his comic situations spinning away like wild rockets. The lies his rebellious housewives tell in We Won't Pay!, and their consequences, need to be played with a mixture of deadpan bafflement and fierce conviction. Andrea Day, unfortunately, isn't quite up to the job (as Margherita), and Katja Rivera hits the right groove only sometimes (as Antonia). Clive Worsley has an easier time as Antonia's conformist husband, Giovanni, and Kevin Kelleher is versatile as sundry clowns (two ridiculous cops and an undertaker). A scene involving birdseed soup and rabbits' heads is hilarious, and the one involving a corpse in the closet comes close, but most of Rebecca Novick's production never quite captures the mania that Fo seems to have had in mind.

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