Review – Quiz Show

April 4, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

★★★★★  Top-of-the-range

Traverse Theatre: 2 – 20 April 2013
Guest Review by Irene Brown

A gaudy, glitzy, tinselled television studio set is the believable backdrop to Rob Drummond’s audacious participatory theatre – the first full production of the Traverse’s fiftieth anniversary season. Full of flashing lights, disco music and gizmos, this is the home of popular quiz show: False!.

It would be brave to say in a short sentence what a play is about. But if anyone can, the writer can, and in Drummond’s forward to his script, he says, “Quiz Show is about the value of chasing truth at all costs…”

Meet the contestants: Gail Watson, Paul Thomas Hickey and Eileen Walsh. Photo by Eoin Carey Traverse Theatre

Meet the contestants: Gail Watson, Paul Thomas Hickey and Eileen Walsh. Photo by Eoin Carey

As False!, the show with the catch phrase ‘The Truth can be Cruel’, starts in Andrew D Edwards’ brilliantly created set, the audience is taken on an edge-of-the-seat switch-back railway ride from laughter to stark sobriety. But it is a fairground ride stripped of its magic and one that shows the chaos and debris behind its ugly workings.

In keeping with such past successes as the spine chilling Bullet Catch, Drummond immerses himself in the world he is focussing on as a receptacle for his premiss, in this case the Quiz Show. His latest piece of daring writing examines the dangers of denial and the suppression of memory. It does so through the vehicle of a surreal world of sham glamour and flickering TVs, whose images cleverly become the set’s changing backdrop.

Interconnectedness and serendipity

Its form is vaguely reminiscent of the Radio 4 show The Unbelievable Truth and tips a hat to Danny Boyle’s Slum Dog Millionaire in the sense of life’s interconnectedness and serendipity – but Drummond gives his own, singular hard hitting message.

Laydees and gentlemen, your quizmaster for the evening, Mr Daniel Caplin! Jonathan Watson in Quiz Show. Photo by Eoin Carey Traverse theatre Rob Drummond

Ladies and gentlemen, your quizmaster for the evening, Mr Daniel Caplin! Jonathan Watson in Quiz Show. Photo by Eoin Carey

This compelling show questions how the past is dealt with and queries the difference between knowledge and wisdom. It looks at the menace of corruption and power and gives lie to slick celebrity smoothness as the stakes are raised from thrill to chill.

The brilliant cast – Gerry the floor manager (Steven McNicoll) who is all clipboard, headset and hand gestures and in character before show even starts; gauche, star struck, vulnerable Sandra (Eileen Walsh); intense, eager, grinning, earnest Ben (Paul Thomas Hickey); glamorous wannabe starlet, Molly (Gail Watson); and smooth talking host Daniel (Jonathan Watson) – inhabit their diverse characters with professional ease in this stunning production made under the sharp direction of Hamish Pirie.

Buy the script:

Among the many erudite references within the text, it is a particular joy to hear the name of the late Ivor Cutler famously Looking for Truth with a Pin. This is a tense, arresting, thought-provoking top-of-the-range theatre. An absolute prize of a show.

Running time: 1 hr 30 mins
Traverse Theatre
2-20 April 2013, Tue-Sat, 7.30pm (Mat 2.30pm Sat 20).
Details on Traverse website: www.traverse.co.uk

ENDS

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  1. mark gorman says:

    This sounds magic Thom

  2. Marion says:

    Spot on review from Irene. Rob Drummond’s script is extremely clever, and the cast were brilliant. A very disturbing piece, but wonderfully delivered. Script, set, cast and effects were all amazing.

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