...In for a Pound

The room is the size of your average school drama studio. The audience is full of adoring parents and polite friends. Some of the actors can act; others cannot. I haven’t seen a play like this since I was in sixth form, maybe even before – and I didn't want to again. Surprisingly, though, LIP Theatre Company's slacker comedy, … In For a Pound, is not touring, as I genuinely thought whilst watching it, from a local school, but is the product of university students from Dundee, performing in a nice venue at the cost of eight quid a ticket. The play's bizarre and ill-realised narrative revolves around one man's mission to buy a packet of cigarettes. Finding himself one pound short of the packet's price he sets out to retrieve some money he lent to his housemate, who lent it to her friend, who used it to buy liquorish from the mafia. Dangled from this structure like a rack of freshly slaughtered lambs are a number of scenes that progress to no logical conclusion, and that sometimes deviate into unwelcome asides, such as a near-incomprehensible scene in which two mafia thugs beat up a Rubik's cube enthusiast, for no reason, symbolic or entertainment value that I could identify.The play has two fundamental problems. The first is that the company have not selected, or at least not conveyed, the mode of theatre they're working in – the actors seem to be aiming for something like naturalism, but the play is, quite deliberately, a farce – they should either have toned it down or, preferably, really hammed it up; gone for bigger, knowing they lack the delicacy to achieve smaller. The second is that the premise is complete nonsense. Why does he need to go visit the mafia to get a pound coin? The characters do not live in poverty, nor does the money appear to symbolise something. So why go? Why not just go to a cash machine and get some money out? Yes, there are problems with the quality of both performance and dialogue, but if a play has some inventive ideas and enthusiastic production, such things can be forgiven. The thoughtlessness with which this show is put together is insulting to the time and expense of the audience.… In For a Pound is a mediocre GCSE play or a bad A-level one. In the latter scenario the students involved get marks ranging from F to B across the cast, peaking at the play's saving grace, a pair of female mafia henchmen with excellent comic timing. You don't get into this play for a penny, or even for a pound – it costs an hour of your life. And not even a poorly conceived trip to see the mafia will give that back to you.

Reviews by Tom Moyser

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The Blurb

Follow one man's hilarious journey as he seeks to reclaim his lost fortune. Along the way he requires help from old friends and questionable new ones, resulting in a multitude of twists, turns, surprises and danger.