0Whe Michigan Doily.
play is a
By Tania Blanich
IF YOUR WIFE offered you birdseed
soup nnade with frozen rabbit heads,
what would you do? Ask Giovanni, the
main protagonist in Dario Fo's social'
satire We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!
According to the play, you get your best
friend to try the soup, then join with,
your community in a rousing chorus of
"We won't pay!"
The action of the play centers around
two- Italian couples' fight against in-
flation. Set in Milan, 1974, We Won't
Pay! not only deals with the problem of
skyrocketing prices but also impending
unemployment, husband-wife relation-
ships, even religion-all from a
working-class point of view. It took Fo
to 'spin a comedic web around these
problems, as he wrote in 1974, "We are
cotvinced that in laughter, in the
grotesque of satire, exists the
maximum expression of doubt, the
mist valid reason.
The performance begins with a funny
prologue by an Italian travel agent,
warning us that "just because the
characters are communist does not
mean it's a political play.',The audience,
immediately put at ease' and already
laughing, settles back to watch the play
A member of the Communist party,
Giovanni is suspicious of the radical ac-
tions of the people ("those subversive
anarchists"). Throughout the play
many people - his wife, his best friend,
and even a police'sergeant - try to
convince him that the people need to
take matters into their own hands.
Slowly the logic of this sinks in.
Giovanni starts repeating what he has
been told. When he receives his eviction
notice, he is finally moved to join in the
Influenced both by the Italian Com-
media dell'arte and the earlier, pre-
Rennaissance form Cantastorie
(meaning story-teller), Fo relies
heavily on situational irony for his
cdmedy. The audience knows what's
Mahard having time of his life
By Elliot Jackson
Chuck Greenia and Jim Moran in a scene from 'We Won't Pay! We Won't
Pay!' The play runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Performance
going on before the characters do.
The play could easily have been
heavy-handed, but director-translator
Davis seems to know when enough is
enough. He and his cast use the right
mixture of audience asides, stylized
walking, slapstick and the occasional
Italian exclamation to keep us
Those who braved the snow Friday
night were not disappointed. Some slow
movements in the action could be
trimmed, nevertheless the ensemble
was enjoyable. The cast, good if not
always consistent, work well together.
Noteworthy were David Bernstein, in
multiple roles, and Jim Moran as Luigi.
Bernstein successfully handles his
four roles, especially given the fact that
his characters were the most
caricatured in the play. His person-
nages (obviously) physically resemble
each other, but Bernstein adeptly gives
each a particular personality without
resorting to over-acting.
Moran plays Luigi with the same ease
he does the Italian travel agent in the
prologue. He moves well and delivers
his lines with the right amount of
humor. Moran seems very comfortable
with the audience and establishes an
immediate rapport with them, where
th'e other actors do not.
We Won't Pay! is a funny play and
also an appropriate one. You'll laugh
heartily, but you will also start to think
about some of the problems in the
world today. Few works can carry off
this double role so well, but Fo's play
and the Network Production's effort
combine to create a very worthwhile
evening of entertainment.
T HE GUEST ARTIST for the Pro-
fessional Theatre Program's
production of William Saroyan's The
Time of Your Life is Tom Mahard, a
professional actor who actually lives in
and works around Ann Arbor.
"I come from what you might say is a
show-biz family," said Mahard. "My
father is scenic designer for WJBH, in
Boston. Whenever you see Alistair
Cooke on "Masterpiece Theatre,"
you're seeing bits of the living-room I
grew up with."
Young Tom, however, early on
eschewed scenic design as a career.
Fancying athletics, he attended Bates
College in Maine and played basketball
there, until a knee injury forced him to
try his hand at other things.
He hit upon the theatre. "After
graduating from Bates, I studied mime
for two years with Tony Montanaro in
South Paris, Maine," Mahard said. "I'
was teaching Headstart kids when I
realized that Maine was getting too
comfortable. So my wife and I headed
out to Los Angeles."
Now settled in Ann Arbor, Mahard
acts in commercials and movies as well
as in the theatre. But it was while he
was appearing in the Michigan Ensem-
ble Theatre's production of Wings late
last year that he was offered the oppor-
tunity to be the Guest Artist for Time of
"I was especially pleased (to receive
the opportunity) since Time of Your
Life is one of my favorite shows," says
Mahard. He pdays the part of Kit Car-
son, a garrulous supposed ex-trapper
who likes to drink beer and tell long,
seemingly pointless stories to the other
Greg Jbara, a junior who plays the
role of Tom; is acting for the first time
in a Guest Artist production, and has
found the experiences to be on the
whole a rewarding one.
"The great thing about Tom Mahard
is that, sure, he's a professional actor,
but he's just so normal. You can talk to
him any time," said Jbara.
He also pointed out that Mahard's
having been rehearsing with the
students from day one led to a much
stronger feeling of rapport, of artistic
communication, than is usual with
guest artists who come in from News
York or Los Angeles, often in the last
stages of production.
The purpose of the series, explained
PTP director Tom Beyer, is to expose
students to professional theater people,
in the hope that they will be able to gar-
ner from them practical advice on mat-
ters such as looking for an agent, or
Both Beyer and Jbara agreed emph-
atically that while "there may have
been unfortunate experiences with in-
dividual artists," the Guest Artist
series itself is a useful and valuable
contribution to the Professional
Theatre Program. All three--Mahard,
Jbara, and Beyer-are looking forward
with great confidence to the opening
performance of The Time of Your Life.
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