Review: ‘We Won’t Pay! Nunca!’ by Teatro Espejo at California Stage Theatre

We Won’t Pay! Nunca!: Friday 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm; Through 3/31; $15-$20; Teatro Espejo at California Stage Theatre, 2509 R Street; (916) 451-5822;
Rated 5.0

In a refreshing political satire, director Manuel José Pickett leads a cast of five brilliant actors into Teatro Espejo’s 44th season with We Won’t Pay! Nunca! at California Stage Theatre. The play was adapted from Dario Fo’s original farce to include current events, such as the recent government shutdown and President Trump’s border wall.

Set in South Sacramento, Kim Ramos, playing the quick-witted Antonia, explodes onto the stage with an intense energy that she maintains throughout the two-hour show. Antonia and her friend Margarita (Olivia Lopez) comically evade the law, while their husbands, Gerardo (Panagiotis Roditis) and Luis (Jonathan Guzman), find themselves in their own misunderstandings and struggles with the National Guard, an inspector, a trucker and a mariachi musician, all played by Catalina Serrano Bucheli. Bucheli’s hilarious comedic timing and incredible ingenuity is clearly seen through her five characters.

The show is bilingual, but it’s accessible to English-speaking audiences who are woefully ignorant of the Spanish language (like me). And with just the right amount of breaking the fourth wall, the actors’ audience interaction is downright fun. It’s a wonderfully light and comical production with a passionate and talented cast.

The play may leave viewers wondering: “Are resistance or lawlessness the only solutions?” But perhaps that’s the purpose—to address such concerns in the current political situation and start conversations. The play also touches on the more positive situations of bringing people from opposite sides together and asks: “Who’s the radical and who’s the Republican here?”

—Tessa Marguerite Outland