Something Else

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The Independent Culture
Guffaws of laughter resounded around the tiny New End Theatre, Hampstead last Sunday brunchtime. The local crowd could not contain its delight at The Entire Company's post- meridian offering of Continental Brechtfest - Les Enfants du Parody, a combination of musical revue and Belgian buns. Buoyed up by the sucrose, the thirtysomething audience roared at every morsel of Euro-cultural send-up.

The three-strong cast slipped from authentic public school accents to cod-French, to Jamaican lilt and back again in 25 sketches. As the revue progressed from a skit about the royals sung to the tune of 'They're changing the guards at Buckingham Palace' to a mock- celebration of London ('The homeless and the poor only make me love it more'), and the laughometer hit record highs, I realised my south London constitution was preventing the bun from taking effect. Despite the continental theme and European Union flag backdrop, the jokes were predominantly about things I'd only ever seen on telly: Melvyn Bragg, Maggie Philbin from Tomorrow's World, getting lost down Kilburn High Road. Lost on me.

After a while the happy voices of Sue Beard, Darryl Boot and Sarah Redmond dissuaded me from trying to puzzle out exactly what was being satirised: topical subjects or musical-going audiences in general. I even laughed at Beard's frying-pan-wielding Bjork. I found myself being enticed by the programme's suggestion of having a 'shopping spree in Hampstead's lively shops'. Craving more buns I entered the nearest cafe. Sitting near the window was none other than Maggie Philbin. It's a funny old monde.

'Continental Brechtfest' 12pm 20, 27 Mar, New End Theatre, London NW3 (071-794 0022)