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Photo by Zachary Spence

Fringe Review: The Sellout

By Barbara Popel on June 10, 2017

Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at

Photo by Zachary Spence

Photo by Zachary Spence

The Sellout
by Curtis Gough

50 min / Drama, Musical / Mature

The précis on the Fringe website describes almost everything that happens in The Sellout.

Sam (Andrea MacWilliams) is an immature young woman who fancies herself a musician (but she doesn’t seem to be able to play the guitar or compose or sing very well). Sam is losing her mind. This is happening because Sam’s boyfriend Emit (Curtis Gough) – another musician who can’t play the guitar and who sings very poorly – left her months ago. Sam’s sister Charlie (Rebecca Laviolette) is a producer. Charlie hires Christina (Victoria Luloff) to help Sam, somehow. Christina and Sam used to be lovers. Charlie finds Sam a job playing a radio jingle for Cialis (this is “the sellout”). All of this except for the detail about Cialis is in the Fringe précis, so I can’t be accused of giving away the plot in this review.

I found it painful to sit through this play. In addition to Sam and Emit’s musical ineptitude, the actresses playing Sam and Christina frequently failed to project, sometimes mumbling but usually indistinct because of their “little girl” high squeaky voices. Were their high-pitched voices a directorial decision to make them sound naive, or am I second-guessing the director?

I’m not sure what the author, Curtis Gough, and the director, Kevin Da Ponte, intend to say with this play. On opening night, the audience often laughed at (not with) the characters. For example, Charlie said Sam “is not well known but that’s why she’s an original.” Sam scarfed a disgusting mix of lettuce, popcorn, Dream Whip and beer, and the audience laughed. A noisy violent episode off-stage that went on for too long elicited the most guffaws. Is humour what Gough and Da Ponte are aiming for? Do they really intend all the characters to be so shallow and stupid? Plus, in this “not-quite-a-musical” are they supposed lack musical talent?

  • The Sellout is rated PG for audiences. Because of the numerous F-bombs and possibly because of the sexual content, I think it should be classified as Mature.

The Sellout by Curtis Gough is playing at Studio 311 (135 Séraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit for the show schedule and box office info.