Thursday, 4 April 2013

Quiz Show


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
5 stars
When it comes, the ending of Rob Drummond's latest dissection of popular culture is as devastatingly unexpected as it is prescient. Yet all the pointers have been sign-posted in a series of keywords that now seem as obvious as a catch-phrase in a damningly deceptive indictment of celebrity culture which all telly addicts should tune in to post haste.

It begins simply enough, as the audience become voyeuristically complicit with the recording of a typically brash TV game show called False. All the classic hallmarks are there, from the gaudily coloured sets to the sharp-suited host to the fawning contestants grasping on to their fifteen minutes of fame with rictus-grinned abandon. There are no questions here, only statements, which new girl Sandra, Ben and reigning champion Molly must get to the truth of. Gradually, however, the every-day grotesquerie of one of the most formulaic forms of escapism takes an ugly turn, lurching into the sort of surrealist territory which is normally the preserve of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror series of troubling futurescapes.

Hamish Pirie's production of Drummond's dangerously incisive piece plays with pop culture in a way that ultimately damns it. There are times when you don't know where the hell it's going, as Eileen Walsh's underdog Sandra is put through her paces in a fashion that resembles a Dennis Potter style nightmare sequence, but once you eventually realise what's going on, it's heart-rendingly of the moment.

Pirie and Drummond have employed a crack comic cast of Walsh, Paul Thomas Hickey, Steven McNicoll, Gail Watson and Jonathan Watson to make something so serious that when the applause comes at the end of Walsh's final, pulverising soliloquy, it damns us all.

The Herald, April 4th 2013

ends

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