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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Belly Laughs Aplenty in We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!
at Intiman Theatre Festival


Kylee Rousellot, G. Valmont Thomas , Adam Standley, Burton Curtis and Tracy Michelle Hughes
The second annual Intiman Theatre Festival buoyant kicks off with a laugh-laden staging of Italian Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo's slapstick farce We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, in a translation by Ron Jenkins. Director Jane Nichols' production sputters a tad at the outset but quickly revs up its comic horsepower, driven by a game cast who put the shtick into the slapstick proceedings with finesse and fervor.

Feeling as timely as ever, Fo's tale of comic mishaps and confusion centers on Antonia and Margherita (though their names might as easily be Lucy and Ethel, or Alice and Trixie), two lower-class housewives driven to stealing food during a protest/riot, and then resorting to extreme measures to conceal their ill-gotten gains from Antonia's judgemental husband Giovanni and Margherita's more amiable spouse Luiggi. A state trooper, a policeman, and sundry others (all played by the same actor) figure into the foolishness surrounding a faux pregnancy the girls concoct to hide their loot. There's not much more to Fo's frolic than that, but Nichols' cast mine every possible laugh in the text.

Tracy Michelle Hughes is a jovial comic spitfire as Antonia, and contrasts well opposite Kylee Rousellot's dry and droll Margherita. Burton Curtis summons up another utterly original lowbrow comedic gem of a characterization as Antonia's disapproving spouse Giovanni, while G. Valmont Tomas is his perfect foil as the genial Luiggi. But the show is totally stolen by Adam Standley as all the other characters. With a face as full of comic contortions as a young Robin Williams, and with limber and utterly odd physical mannerisms, Standley, a newer face on Seattle stages, is clearly a comedic force to be reckoned with.

Jennifer Zeyl's scenic design is a vintage sitcom dilapidated motif, while Deb Trout's costumes are colorful commedia dell'arte knock-offs, and, eclectic as the styles are, it somehow works in Fo's mad, mad, world.

We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! runs in repertory with the three other Intiman Festival productions at The Cornish Playhouse, 201 Mercer St. in Seattle Center, through September 15: Lysistrata, Trouble in Mind and the new musical Stu For Silverton. For tickets and further information go to www.intiman.org.


Photo by: Chris Bennion



- David Edward Hughes



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