THEATRE / Boardroom Shuffle - The Cottons Centre, London EC4

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The Independent Culture
The props are impressive, emphasising American Connection theatre company's ability to win corporate sponsorship: glossy business brochures are handed out and Penfold Australian wine is served. The point of this is to recreate the atmosphere of a successful company's shareholders' meeting. Moving among the audience are the actors, adopting their personae from the later performance: all the world's a stage, hey ho.

Unfortunately, impressive as it is, the Cottons Centre atrium is not a stage. When the play begins, the actors' words are swallowed by a giant echo: it is like being in a swimming baths. Gregg Ward's Boardroom Shuffle is set in the near-future: Peter Blake, the chief executive of SET, first reveals his new omniscient computer Prophet, and then the fact that he is leaving at the end of the week to join the UN. There follows a contest as to who will succeed him. It is all very silly stuff (though played with deadly earnestness), with a weak central premiss and an unlikeable central character (played by Jeremy Spriggs).

The piece is saved by a certain curiosity as to what daftness is going to emerge next and by some competent performances, most notably Keith Bayliss as the brown-suited Head of Finance and John Deery as the thrusting yuppie Head of Sales and Marketing.

To 23 October (081-741 5955)

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