THEATRE / Sell Out] - Etcetera Theatre, London N1

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The Independent Culture
Jonathan Rich's Sell Out] is about a university theatre group, Puss (pronounced pus), that takes a production up to the Edinburgh Festival only to find that the venue it has booked is a cabaret theatre and the stage is the size of a postage stamp.

Puss's play, Survival, is about class struggle in a post-nuclear wasteland. Not surprisingly, the theatre group performs to empty houses until the cast's resident public schoolboy (overacted by David Elliot) manages to lure in a coachload of Conservatives from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the pretence that what they will see is a musical with a happy ending. Cue the second joke: will the group 'sell out' to sell out? (Three guesses as to what they do.)

It's a risky venture, putting on a fringe play about a group that puts on a bad fringe play. The danger is that it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two, and indeed, the spoof programme that is handed out for Survival, is not notably different from the real one. Neither too, is the quality of the acting or direction. With a competent cast and a disciplined director, Sell Out] might work. This is not that production.

To 11 October (071-482 4857)