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Low Pay? Don’t Pay! review at Tron Theatre, Glasgow – ‘an energetic riot’

Itxaso Moreno and Gavin Jon Wright in Low Pay? No Pay! at Tron Theatre
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Low Pay? Don’t Pay! is a 2010 translation of Dario Fo’s post-banking crisis update of his 1974 Marxist satire Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!.

Today, its message is made even more relevant in this new version by the Tron’s panto king Johnny McKnight. By rewriting Fo scholar Joseph Farrell’s translation in Glaswegian Scots, its message is made populist in the best sense of the word. This month’s forthcoming tour includes community centres, and it’s easy to imagine McKnight’s version connecting with audiences who might never visit a traditional theatre.

At its heart is a striking, comic double act between Julie Wilson Nimmo and Sally Reid as two friends – Toni and Maggie.

Toni is an impassioned but wildly over-eager working class housewife, who loots the shop she works in alongside rioting colleagues and spends 90 ever-more-frantic minutes trying to hide the evidence.

Suspicion is raised with her husband Gio (Gavin Jon Wright) and Itxaso Moreno’s absurdist one-woman police force; first she’s an acrobatic, anarchist beat cop who can “smell ganja through breeze-block”, then a Poirot-meets-Clouseau figure who appears like a ghost from empty rooms.

The piece is an energetic riot of pantomime farce and comic physical theatre, and Reid is a big force as Maggie – who, in covering for her friend, has to avoid her husband Louis (Thierry Mabonga) believing the groceries stuffed up her jacket is a pregnancy.

But key to director Rosalind Sydney’s great ensemble cast is Nimmo, who spends the play breathlessly cementing a wall of delusion against her own poverty, before a thoroughly earned snap at the end leaves her calling for revolution over waiting “for another referendum or a general election or a new Lidl opening to give us hope.” She delivers a tour de force.

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Dario Fo’s political satire becomes an ensemble comedy of the Glaswegian working class in the age of austerity