Theatre: On The Fringe

IT TAKES a certain intrepidity to call a show Sell Out. As a description of the youthful Frantic Assembly's latest offering, the title is a trifle misleading: Michael Wynne's play exposes the slip-knot bond of four twentysomething friends who, it emerges, are too faithless to have ever really bought into anything. As a forecast of the works reception on tour, though, it has proved uncannily accurate. To have had to add an extra date to their recent British Festival of Visual Theatre run looks like good fortune. To have packed out the Bull Theatre in Barnet with teens on a wet Friday night - as they did last week - looks nothing short of miraculous. If they can command this kind of attention at the end of the Northern Line, who knows what business they could drum-up in the centre of London.

It's not hard to fathom the appeal. Frantic - who have been operating since 1992 - continue to make an acting area as sexy as a dancefloor: Force 10 techno sounds come crashing in at every available opportunity; in the programme, a scrap of notepaper with a scrawled playlist of scenes ("love stairs", "secrets", "sizequeen" etc) spells death to stuffy three- acters. The cast of four - in roles that steal their own christian names - display an agility normally reserved for steroid enhanced Russian gymnasts. In skimpy tops and the usual club rig-out, Cait Davies, Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett and Ansty Thomas leap into each other's arms, dash each other to the ground and find countless ways of draping themselves off two moveable steel structures: a set of easily tipped up steps and what looks like a cross-sectioned WC. When they open their mouths to speak they sound so unfazed they might have been just boiling the kettle.

But it's what they say that counts. The super fit expressionism (choreographed by T C Howard) runs parallel to the bruising attitudes that surface after the opening scene, in which a euphoric Stephen celebrates his birthday with girlfriend Kate and two best mates. In the cold, clear light of reflection, it dawns on him that everyone knew what was coming: Scott was a furtive rival while Ansti's gift, a self-help book, quietly declared her unthinking support for Kate's cynical refusal to commit. Wynne sketches the emotional trench warfare that ensues with devastating economy. The wounding remarks can be transparently juvenile ("I really think the scabies brought us together, at least we had something in common when we had them"), but that's what gives Sell Out its integrity. Imagine a hormonally raging prequel to Closer, or Pinter's Betrayal with added beats per minute.

The physical skills deployed in the Scarlet Theatre company's Stranded are more subtly expressive than Frantic's bicep-breaking contortions. But then, they have to be. Katarzyna Deszcz has chosen a simple, if vivid, storyline, based on the Italian judge and playwright Ugo Betti's Crime on Goat Island, about a thick-skinned stranger who invites himself into a remote house occupied by three women claiming to have befriended Agatha, the head of the household's husband before he died in a prison-of-war camp. It's the awkward silences, the mutual sizing up, rather than the terse dialogue that grips, though, as allegiances shift bringing ill-tempered rifts. As the matriarch's sister-in-law and daughter, Jane Guernier and Sarah-Theresa Belcher provide strong support, rich in scatty detail, but it is Linda Kerr-Scott's abandoned widow Agatha who supplies the piece's tragicomic cores: her rapid neck movements suggest a startled farmyard goose, her pursed lips and severe eyes an eternity of strife between the sexes.

`Stranded', Young Vic, London SE1, to 21 Nov. `Sell Out', 13 Nov UEA, Norwich; 17 Nov, Theatre Studio, Scarborough and touring until March 1999

Dominic Cavendish

Arts and Entertainment
Emo rockers Fall Out Boy

music

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment

film

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links