If ever there was a play for our troubled times, it is Northern Broadsides’ new production of Dario Fo’s They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay, which opens at York Theatre Royal tonight.
Italian playwright Fo, famous for his poltical farce Accidental Death of an Anarchist, wrote the play in 1974 as a satirical comedy about the civil disobedience that ensues in response to high prices. It has been the job of Broadsides’ frequent collaborator award-winning writer and actor Deborah McAndrew to adapt and update it.
“Fo tackled everything through comedy, no matter how serious it might appear to be,” says McAndrew. “What I have done is convert the play to our time and situation as much as possible, so it deals with food poverty in 21st century austerity Britain, and Brexit. As far as comedy is concerned we have an embarrassment of riches at the moment in terms of political farce.” Fo, who died in 2016, reworked his play in 2010 at the time of the financial crash.
“When Fo originally wrote it in the 1970s he was talking about Italy being the laughing stock of Europe,” says McAndrew.
“I don’t think as a writer I have to do too much with that for people to see the contemporary parallels.”
At York Theatre Royal, October 5-13, then touring. northern-broadsides.co.uk