Low Pay? Don't Pay Review - Piccolo Theatre's Extravagantly Hilarious Farce

The Cast of LOW PAY? DON'T PAY! at Piccolo Theatre in Evanston

Enthusiastically Recommended

You know that laugh you laugh when someone tickles you?  The profoundly uncontrollable laugh that doesn't even sound like your typical laugh? The one you may not have heard since you were a kid?  That was me during Low Pay? Don't Pay! I was squeaking. I was helpless.  I don't even especially like farce. Pregnant with preposterous lies/absurd situations/over-the-top reactions the story hit me like a huge wave of irresistible craziness. I couldn't help myself.

Low Pay? Don't Pay! is one part writer's craft: Dario Fo, 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature reprises his signature style--lampooning the powerful and elevating the downtrodden. Add to that John Szostek's  "The Honeymooners" look and feel, and a ridiculous farce is born. Mama Mia, did we laugh!

The first production in Piccolo's 10th Anniversary season, Low Pay? Don’t Pay! marks a decade of quirky, crazy, comedy inspired by but not limited to Commedia  dell' Arte. John Szostek, Piccolo’s Artistic Director, Founder, directs a mischievous all-ensemble cast with a gift for physical comedy who specialize in zany characters. The satire's infectious, the staging's remarkable (especially considering the size of the space), the fun's abundant. 

Actually, the story's fairly pedestrian: high prices at the supermarket.  But here's the Piccolo spin: our housewives,  pliable Antonia ( Brianna Sloane) and  resourceful Margherita ( Amy Gorelow), fed up with high prices in the supermarket, “liberate” some items from the local grocery store. Don't look they look innocent?

The resourceful but disobedient wives, Antonia (Brianna Sloane) and Margherita (Amy Gorelow)

Margherita--queen of the tall tale--must hide her misdeeds from her explosive, blowhard husband, the Kramden-esque Giovanni ( Ken Raabe, Piccolo co-founder with John Szostek).

Giovanni (Ken Raabe) listens Margherita's version of reality

Antonia's husband, the dim-witted Luigi ( Glenn Proud), never questions anything she tells him, no matter how far fetched. Why would his wife, or anyone else, lie to him?

Antonia tells her gullible husband, Luigi (Glenn Proud) a colosal lie. And he buys it!

It seems that no a man in the cast has an IQ over 50 and the oafish policeman is no bright bulb, either. An especially nice touch: all inept male authority figures are played by the same hardworking actor, David W. M. Kelch.  One of the characters even mentions it in the play.

Antonia and Margherita are pretty smug when they outsmart the cop (David W. M. Kelch), too.

The women resort to more and more inventive but lame hiding places, as slapstick confusion leads to rollicking chaos. But, for me, the most outrageous moment was when... Nope.  I won't ruin your fun!  Go see Low Pay? Don't Pay!  and tell me your favorite moment, [email protected]

About the Playwright
Dario Fo
, “the people’s jester” and a master of political farce, is Italy’s leading contemporary playwright and is renowned for his hilarious satires including Accidental Death of an Anarchist and About Face.

About the Stagecraft
A small miracle happens at Piccolo productions.  An impossibly tiny room becomes a theater.  These are the wizards who transformed the space for Low Pay? Don't Pay!:
Costume Design: Joshua D. Allard
Stage Manager: Cate Anderson
Lighting Designer: Richard Bryant
Assistant Stage Manager: Rebecca Cagney
Prop Designer: Vanessa Hughes (Kudos on those rabbit heads, Vanessa. Really!)
Assistant Director, Dramaturg: Denita Lennertz
Set Designer: David Piper
Sound Designer: Alex Ruhlin
Photos: Robert E. Potter, III, rep3.com

Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Director: John Szostek who began his love for Commedia dell'Arte while performing in Stratford-upon-Avon, of all places.  How nice of him to being it to Evanston, of all places.

My compliments to the creator(s) of the program for Low Pay? Don't Pay!, cleverly disguised as Hard Times, a Social Democrats Socialist Party newspaper.

Another nice touch:  Dario Fo asked that the backdrop used for an earlier production be updated to include people of color. The original, with Italians only, is shown in the program.

Now I want to read and see more Dario Fo.  But even more than that, I want to go back to the Piccolo Theatre to enjoy more of their exquisite craziness.  John Szostek sat next to me during the second act and suggested we make the Piccolo our neighborhood theater.  We can do that. You can, too.  Start by going to Low Pay? Don’t Pay! All the info you need follows.


About Low Pay? Don’t Pay!
Playwright: Dario Fo
Translator: Joseph Farrell
Editor: Franca Rame
Director: John Szostek
Continuing until: Oct 23, 2010
Location: Piccolo Theatre at Evanston Arts Depot, 600 Main St., Evanston
Days & Times: Fri/Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm
Tickets: $25 for Adults,  $20 for Seniors, $15 for Students, call for group rates
Call for reservations 847-424-0089 or order online www.piccolotheatre.com

Planning Your Trip

The Piccolo Theatre could hardly be more convenient. Take either the Purple line CTA or Metra right to the door.  Or park nearby.  There are several interesting restaurants within a block or two so you can make an afternoon or evening of your visit.

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