Gli Imbianchini Non Hanno Ricordi
This creative, histerical play by Dario Fo tells the story of two painters who try to con a widow for an extra buck. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they enter this crazy house. Soon they will discover something that even these con artists can't handle. This jubilant slap-stick comedy captures the audiences imagination.
Scene by Scene Summary
The setting is a somewhat old-fashioned bourgeois house, decorated with articles from around the world. A WIDOW (later known as Lucia), sits gazing intently at an extremely lifelike mannequin (later known as GIORGIO). Two men calling themselves “house painters” arrive at the house. The first to enter is ALDO, the painter. The WIDOW asks him if they also do tapestries, and he has no idea. ALDO tells the WIDOW she should ask his boss, who appears at the other end of a very long ladder. When he enters, the BOSS (The BOSS) is shocked and angry that ALDO hasn’t told the WIDOW that they can also do upholstery work.
Giving the ladder to the WIDOW, the BOSS pulls back the painter to speak with him. They are men of many trades, so tapestries should be no problem. Whenever someone asks if they can do something, the answer should always be yes! ALDO gives his end of the ladder to the BOSS and sends him away so he can speak with the WIDOW again to tell her that they accept the upholstery job. ALDO then learns that the WIDOW is a WIDOW (“vedova”), and confesses that he too is a WIDOW (“vedovo”). He actually means a WIDOWer, but it is the same thing. The wife of the BOSS is also a widow, but from her first marriage.
Signore MILVIO enters carrying the other end of the ladder. It seems the BOSS has asked him to hold it while he visited the restroom. While speaking, MILVIO pulls out some money and gives it to the WIDOW— at this point, we are not exactly sure why. MILVIO mentions that being at the house reminds him of his youth back in the country, in the time of his first loves. He then decides that he should stop because memories are always painful. The WIDOW disagrees and tells MILVIO that memories are the only joy in life and that they should be cherished. MILVIO notices the mannequin, noting how lifelike it looks. We learn that the mannequin is meant to resemble someone named GIORGIO and the WIDOW remembers all the little things he did while alive. Together, MILVIO and LUCIA reminisce about better times. The BOSS returns and interrupts their reverie by pointing out that the WIDOW has a terrific bathroom. MILVIO points out that he is still carrying the ladder, and the BOSS quickly takes it back. He asks what work must be done, but first the WIDOW shows MILVIO the way out.
When they leave, the BOSS sets up the ladder in order to begin his work. Unfortunately, ALDO is still on the ladder! The BOSS is confused and looks everywhere for him. When he finally realizes that ALDO is at the other end of the ladder, he yells at him to come down. ALDO won’t come down while the lights are on, so the BOSS turns off the lights. A ruckus follows and there is a loud crash.
When the lights come back on, we find ALDO on top of the mannequin—of whose presence the house painters had previously been unaware. The BOSS thinks that the mannequin is a man, and wants to know where he came from. ALDO convinces his boss that the man is dead and that they have killed him. Both believe that they will be in deep trouble when his murder is discovered. The BOSS notices that the mannequin bears a striking resemblance to ALDO. He comes up with a plan: ALDO will carry the body upstairs, and switch clothes with the MANNEQUIN—dressing himself in its clothes and dressing it as a house painter. The BOSS asks ALDO for a hand in lifting the body, but ALDO instead gives him his own hand. Thus ALDO ends up being carried by the BOSS, who upon realizing this gets angry. The BOSS picks up the MANNEQUIN, and they both move him. Something happens offstage, and ALDO and The BOSS return, but ALDO is once again being carried by The BOSS,
When ALDO exits to switch clothes with the mannequin, the BOSS returns and gets ready to get to work when a young woman (ANNA) enters. ANNA asks if he is the upholsterer, and THE BOSS, caught off guard, doesn’t know what to say. The woman notices that the mannequin (which she calls GIORGIO) is not there, and wonders where he has. She also comments on what he was like when he was alive and we learn that GIORGIO was the WIDOW ’s husband. When ANNA mentions GIORGIO’s death, the BOSS fears that ALDO has been caught. ANNA continues to say how all the girls were upset at the death of GIORGIO three years ago, but the mannequin helped ease the pain. The BOSS is overjoyed when he learns that they have not murdered GIORGIO because he was already dead when they arrived. ANNA explains that the mannequin was merely a wax statue of the WIDOW’s former husband GIORGIO. THE BOSS wants more information, but the WIDOW calls for ANNA and she leaves.
ALDO returns in GIORGIO’s clothes, complimenting himself on his resemblance. The BOSS fires back, giving ALDO the information that it was only a mannequin. The WIDOW returns and the housepainters scramble to make ALDO appear like GIORGIO. The BOSS resorts to painting a moustache on ALDO’s face instead of going to retrieve the real mannequin. THe BOSS worries that if the WIDOW finds out, they will be out of a job. ALDO complains but complies, agreeing to pose as the mannequin. The BOSS finishes painting him to resemble GIORGIO and warns him not to breathe when the WIDOW returns.
When she does return, the WIDOW sees the BOSS doing something to GIORGIO with a paintbrush and asks what is going on. The BOSS claims to be an amateur art restorer working to restore his appearance. The WIDOW peers more closely at her “Giorgio” (who has been replaced by the living house painter ALDO) and faints. Coming to, the WIDOW explains she thought GIORGIO looked so alive that he spooked her, and offers money to the BOSS for his unbelievable work in such a lifelike restoration of her mannequin. He doesn’t want to accept, but the supposedly-immobile ALDO snatches the money and the BOSS is forced to take it.
The BOSS raises his hand to strike ALDO and is caught in the act by the WIDOW. THE BOSS must lie again, and claims that he was trying to kill a fly on GIORGIO’s face. Trying to kill it, the WIDOW accidentally hits the BOSS in the face. She then notices that the BOSS has her money, and he explains that he picked it up from under the chair. The WIDOW is grateful and proclaims that the BOSS, like her GIORGIO, is a man of honor and a gentleman. She explains the positive qualities of GIORGIO’s personality, turning his head toward the BOSS. The BOSS asks her to turn GIORGIO’s head the other way because it frightens him. She continues, and goes to put her money in the inside pocket of GIORGIO’s shirt. Her explanation is that so that no one would look for the money on a mannequin. While undoing his shirt, her movements tickle ALDO who is trying to remain still and silent.
The WIDOW notices the time and leaves, telling the BOSS that she must give GIORGIO his injection to keep the insects away. ALDO is terrified at the thought of being injected with insecticide and wants to leave, but before he can do so ANNA and two other young women (SONIA and DAINA) appear and ask about the whereabouts of the other housepainter ALDO. One of the girls, SONIA, tells them he has been in the restroom for a better part of an hour and the she hopes he is not sick. The BOSS says that ALDO locks himself in a bathroom whenever there is work to do, leading him to believe that work makes him sick. The other girl, DAINA, notices “Giorgio” (ALDO) commenting on how lifelike he looks, and also on how different he looks. The BOSS boasts about his restoration skills, and SONIA wants him to give her a touch-up as well. She sees GIORGIO and exclaims that he looks almost alive. The girls begin to argue about whom gets to spend the most time with GIORGIO, and their altercation gets physical. The WIDOW returns and admonishes the women, banishing them to their rooms. The BOSS leaves too, thinking he is in trouble but the WIDOW soon calls him back.
The WIDOW wants to give the MANNEQUIN his injection, but ALDO squirms and makes this procedure extremely difficult. The BOSS finally succeeds in putting ALDO in a position to receive the injection, and he asks about the three young women. LUCIA tells him that they are her co-widows because they were also GIORGIO’s wives. LUCIA explains that GIORGIO wanted to study Asian customs—especially those of polygamist Muslims-- but he couldn’t afford to travel all the way there, so instead they recreated the system of multiple wives. The BOSS is astonished, but more at the size of the needle the WIDOW has taken from her box and not the bizarre marital system that is in place at this strange house. The WIDOW explains that she had a difficult time finding women to take part, but in the end she succeeded by establishing a brothel. The WIDOW wants to finish the injection, but ALDO repositions himself so that The BOSS is the one who receives injection. At this, he goes rigid. The WIDOW, not noticing, continues to tell the tale. She explains that the young women all fell in love with GIORGIO and were beginning no longer fulfilling their duty as prostitutes, so GIORGIO had to die to return her life to peace and quiet because of all the squabbles. The BOSS cries out for his mother and father, but the WIDOW still has not noticed. She realizes that her talk must be boring, and she leaves.
ALDO relinquishes his role as “Giorgio” and realizes something is wrong with the BOSS. He wonders aloud what was in the injection, and a voice from offstage says that it knows exactly what was in it. ALDO realizes that the mannequin of GIORGIO has come to life. He freaks out. The real GIORGIO—now dressed as a housepainter— explains that the injection was meant for him. GIORGIO realizes that it was ALDO who took him off the chair, switched clothes and essentially saved his life. If ALDO had not moved GIORGIO, he would still be embalmed and sitting on the chair. The real GIORGIO explains that his WIDOW, Lucia, wanted him all to herself, so she made up a story of how he died and how she created a mannequin to keep as a memento. GIORGIO had been kept this way for three years. ALDO worries that the BOSS will also be like this for three years, but GIORGIO reassures him by telling the injection only lasts 48 hours, unless it is administered daily.
The two decide to transform the BOSS into another mannequin in order to trick the WIDOW. While applying the newest GIORGIO’s makeup, the BOSS sneezes. GIORGIO realizes that this is perhaps the only way to bring an embalmed person back to life. Slowly, the two men tickle the BOSS back to life. GIORGIO takes him and helps him walk, but tells ALDO to stay. ALDO does not want to, and the WIDOW happens to see him up and about and—still believing him to be the mannequin of Giorgio— says that she must give him a larger dose immediately. ALDO tries to leave, but cannot and decides to hide behind a curtain. The BOSS and GIORGIO return, and notice that ALDO has left. GIORGIO leaves to search for him. The WIDOW returns, and realizes she is too late, as GIORGIO has come back to life and left. ALDO says that he refuses to come out to receive another injection. The WIDOW says it is for his own good. At this, GIORGIO emerges and she becomes confused at the sight of multiple GIORGIOs.
The real GIORGIO tells her that all the injections have finally killed him, and it is his ghost that appears before her. The WIDOW is so shocked that she drops the syringe with the injection into the chair. The three GIORGIOs appear and torment her, causing her to faint and fall into the chair where she dropped the needle, thus injecting herself with the embalming fluid. GIORGIO is finally free, and the housepainters want to paint a moustache on the WIDOW as well. THE BOSS warns ALDO that doing that could bring her back to life because of the sneezing that it would provoke.
GIORGIO wants to know how to thank the two painters. They decide that since there are three more wives for GIORGIO, they could each have one. At this, the three young women enter and see the three GIORGIOs. SONIA wonders aloud how out of one come three. GIORGIO replies that the Lord’s power is infinite. The women leap into the arms of their men and all is well.