When it comes to theatre up North, it seems we three buzzwords: Northern Broadsides, York Theatre Royal and playwright Deborah McAndrew. This Autumn, they’re collaborating to create They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! an adaptation of Dario Fo’s political satire of civil disobedience Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!
It’s going to be political, which is no bad thing if it’s also entertaining. The show will tell the story of Anthea, who gets mixed up in a riot at her local supermarket. Will she tell her law-abiding husband what exactly she’s been up to?
Deborah McAndrew’s previous works include Hard Times and Cyrano, so she’s no stranger to tackling difficult adaptions. She says: ““Dario Fo tackled everything through comedy – no matter how unfunny that might appear to be. In his Italy of the 1970s there are clear parallels with the kind of food poverty we see in 21st Century Britain – with the growth of food banks and holiday hunger projects etc… It’s interesting to note that Fo reworked this play himself in 2010. He updated the references and changed the title from the original Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! but it’s pretty much the same play. In fact, the amendments he made to the ending seem to express a feeling of sorrow that in almost 40 years little has changed.”
The show is being directed by Northern Broadsides new Artistic Director and Joint CEO Conrad Nelson. He most recently directed Hard Times, which was hard going, but hopefully this piece will be a little more expressive and relevant. He says: “In Deborah McAndrew’s witty new adaptation, Fo’s sharp satire and theatrical anarchy is firmly re-located and re-voiced in the Northern Powerhouse of contemporary Brexit Britain. It’s all about the timing. We’re in a mess. You’ve just gotta laugh… haven’t you?”
The show will open at York Theatre Royal, from 5th-13th October and will then tour to Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford; Hull Truck Theatre; Liverpool Playhouse; New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield; Stephen Joseph Theatre and the Viaduct Theatre, Halifax.