James Graham’s engaging play is transformed into a highly entertaining production by Daniel Evans, placing the ideas of entertainment and justice under the spotlight.
How competitive are you? How far would you go to be the best or in this case the winner of a hugely successful television quiz show? These are just two of many questions at the heart of James Graham’s intelligent and funny fictional account of the 2001 scandal involving Charles Ingram and his wife Diana – who attempted to cheat their way to victory on Who Want’s to be Millionaire.
Daniel Evans has created a creative and engaging production that really concentrates on Graham’s examination of people being placed on trial by the media – not just newspapers but also the production companies and so forth who would do anything for better ratings and for additional entertainment value.
All of the performances are of high quality, not least Keir Charles as Chris Tarrant, who really accurately portrays the quiz show host and all his mannerisms throughout with hilarious effect and Gavin Spokes as the bumbling if slightly more sympathetic Charles Ingram who quickly finds himself in a situation he can’t control. The cast are fully dedicated to their (in some cases) many different roles as the pieces of the story come together.
But the production is also highly effective in the way it uses the audience, making them choose options at particular moments or even making them even more active participants in the show by involving them in some classic gameshow replications. This all shows just how easy it is to take what we see on television as reality when at times it could be merely a scripted reality we are witnessing.
The play is sharp and perceptive but can at times come across as slightly too sympathetic towards Ingram that can at times lessen the impact of the message which is that is it ever acceptable to pass judgement and justice through the media all in the name of ‘entertainment’? However, the humour is sharp and enjoyable, with Graham managing to find the balance between making a point to the audience but still keeping it light and entertaining along the way.
There might not be a lot to say in terms of the plot, but it is the way in which both James Graham and Daniel Evans manage to present it (with the help of the set design of Robert Jones) which keeps the story sharp and engaging throughout – particularly the way it switches between the courtroom scenes and the events leading up to the arrests.
Funny, entertaining and thought provoking, Quiz is worth a look for those looking for something a bit different in the West End.
Quiz will play at the Noel Coward Theatre until the 16th June. To book tickets click here or visit: Encore Tickets, See Tickets.com, Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Ticketmaster.co.uk .