Playwright and TV writer James Graham currently has two hot tickets currently staged in the Northwest.
A searing and moving adaptation of Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff at Liverpool’s Royal Court and the intriguing Quiz which is at the Lowry until this weekend.
The Coughing Major
Most people remember the coughing Major on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and the scandal that followed, as he his wife and friend were accused of cheating.
And as you relive how this drama took hold within the media, and we all played detective, you are reminded of Phillip and Holly’s infamous queue jumping at the Queen’s funeral.
And Coleen Rooney morphing into Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher to trap her old friend/turned for Rebekah Vardy on Insta.
Fact is Stranger Than Fiction
Fact is stranger than fiction, as these ‘characters’ attempt to beat ITV at their own game by boning up before appearing on the popular game show, and a syndicate is formed, in an attempt to get people into that famous chair.
If you don’t know what comes next (cough) then think about the idea that when a) a series of answers are given, b) someone guesses correctly, or C) They are signalled to the right answer via a cough.
A Fast Moving Play
The result is a fast-moving play that questions everything, from ITV who wanted working-class people to answer questions, but realised they needed drama and excitement.
And when they got it with the Major, his wife Diana and friend Tecwen, which sold newspapers and gave the show tons of publicity, it also meant that the concept of the show could be questioned and the idea that luck be a lady tonight, was destroyed. Or was it?
The intriguing thing about James Graham’s writing is that it presents this in the form of a court case/quiz show and you find yourself doing a Coleen Rooney and trying to work it out for yourself.
The first half rattles along nicely and before you know it, it is the interval. The second half does repeat itself and goes over old ground and it is not quite as thrilling, as watching who has the fastest finger first.
Rory Bremner as Chris Tarrant
The performances are great with Rory Bremner capturing Chris Tarrant’s smugness and warmth with ease. Charley Webb is excellent in her stage debut as Diana, the quizzer who cannot believe her luck.
And Lewis Reeves gives Charles Ingram far more than a coughing posh chancer, he feels human and you have sympathy for him, as he and his wife enter a media storm in far more than a teacup.
Daniel Evans and Sean Linnen know how to build tension and this is inspired considering most people remember the outcome. They still manage to keep you guessing.
Ryan Day’s lighting highlights how uncomfortable it is to be in the spotlight, on a quiz show, where millions judge your every move.
So Authentic, You Feel Yourself Playing Along
And Tim Reid’s video design and recreation of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire is so authentic, you find yourself playing along from your chair.
Do use your interactive freebie, as you arrive as you can play along and vote from the luxury of your seat. Don’t forget to hand it back to an usher as you leave.
Quiz might be a bit uneven at times, and its attempts to present you with a 50/50 approach mean that it sometimes struggles to find a fresh argument that you have not heard before.
But thanks to Rory Bremner’s commitment to the material and some fine lighting and superb sound design, you do find yourself on the edge of your seats for the most part.
And that’s my final answer.
Quiz is at the Lowry until 28th October and can be booked here
You can also get a ticket for £20 with an exclusive I Love MCR discount code for all seats and performances.
Simply click here and use the code ILMQUIZ at the checkout