Desperation Bingo

Aug 16 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆    Not quite clickety-clicking

The Biscuit Factory (Venue 173): Tue 15 – Sat 19 Aug 2017
Review by Martin Gray

There’s silliness with a social conscience at Creative Electric’s bingo-based show, Desperation Bingo, at the Biscuit Factory.

As we enter the industrial unit serving as a theatre space, we’re given bingo cards, dabbers and assaulted with a felt tip pen… because having someone draw on you without your consent is ‘fun’ and ‘art’, apparently.

Nick has got his big glittery ball bag out in readiness of a game of Desperation Bingo. Pic: Creative Electric

Inside, the glittery set, with inflatable fruit and shimmering walls, perks me up… I like a bit of fun tackiness. And when the show starts – ten minutes late, and it lasts just 35 minutes rather than the advertised 60 – light-hearted fun is promised.

Host Nick wears a glorious sequinned jacket, Prize Corner girl Chanel O’Connor is a glittering vision… even the three contestants are ablaze with bling. The deal is that audience members can win spot prizes for a full line, while the on-stage contestants vie for big money by being first to the mic with personal information related to the numbers from Nick’s ‘shiny sack’ fnarr fnarr. So 25 is the £25 of tips Contestant #3 gets at work each week, while 30 is the number of minutes it takes Contestant #1 to get a fake tan.

In the third and final round, things suddenly get dark. I won’t give away the twist, but it’s centred on the state and the more vulnerable members of society. Camp comedy becomes agitprop theatre in an uncomfortable transition. Not discomfiting in a powerful way, just an awkward one, as silliness is replaced by simplistic conclusions.


‘Devised’ can be the most terrifying word in theatre; too often it equates to self-indulgent, sprawling work. Desperation Bingo is inspired and informed by Susan Marshall, devised and performed by Rosalind McAndrew, Nicholas Alban and Mark Hannah and devised and directed by Heather Marshall.

The acting is fine, and the commitment of all involved admirable. What this production really needs, though, is a sharp writer to finesse the interesting idea at the core of proceedings – life can be a game of chance – into a sharp piece of theatre. Then, Desperation Bingo could be worthy of a full house.

Running time: 60 minutes
The Biscuit Factory, 4-6 Anderson Place, EH6 5NP (Venue 173) ​
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 August 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm.

Creative Electric website:
Facebook: @CreativeElectric
Twitter: @Creativelectric


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