by Rob Drummond.
Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1) 10 Cambridge Street EH1 2ED To 20 April 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0131 228 1404.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 April.
A girl, a gun, social relevance – what more could you want?
If you’re supposed to learn from a quiz show; you’ll learn more than you bargained for from this one. A play takes its main characters on a journey of discovery, the audience riding along. Rob Drummond’s new play is a switch-back, in different senses, for one of its characters and the spectators.
On film, the vertiginous changes of perspectives and sudden revelations of significance in lines that had seemed casual or misjudged would have involved smart lens work. In Hamish Pirie’s immaculate production (with Eileen Walsh outstanding), moving from the fake glitz of a TV studio to the quiet honesty of a place something like media-land after nuclear devastation, Drummond creates the impact through skilled revelation, disruptions and intrusive inconsistencies.
The TV quiz called FALSE eventually leads to the truth. The quiz has no questions, but one contestant asks herself a lot as she proceeds through confusion towards the truth which lies behind a door ever-closed, until it opens on a media wasteland.
Drummond, who taught himself wrestling for a previous show, and an old show trick for Bullet Catch, uses his TV format with intricate perfection. His subject opens-up a recent major media story but has wider relevance.
And he implicates the audience; we begin as compliantly cheering quiz show spectators before the applause starts to fragment as people progressively realise things aren’t right.
By the end we might be in a counselling session or lecture. And the closing part ought to be anticlimactic. Story and humour over, the final speech could be from a socially concerned page in one of the more serious newspapers.
But it’s riveting, thanks to the revelations – including one moment of video – and the tight-packed plotting. A lot’s been said and written about the events to which Quiz Show most obviously relates. Drummond offers understanding and clarity in place of hindsight’s easy judgements.
Drummond’s script is more tightly-plotted than most viewers will realise on a single sighting. All the more reason Quiz Show, with its matching of form and content, its mix of humour, thrill and seriousness, shouldn’t disappear after its first-rate Traverse premiere.
Ben: Paul Thomas Hickey.
Gerry: Steven McNicoll.
Sandra: Eileen Walsh.
Molly: Gail Watson.
Daniel: Jonathan Watson.
Director: Hamish Pirie.
Designer: Andrew D Edwards.
Lighting: David Plater.
Sound/Composer: Daniel Krass.
Video: Tim Reid.
Movement: Tom Pritchard.
Assistant director: Emily Reutlinger.