This week I was invited along for a sneak peek of James Graham's play Quiz. The play had a successful run at Chichester and is about to open at the Noel Coward Theatre. Here is all you need to know about the show.
What it's about:
The show focuses on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire's infamous coughing major, Charles Ingram. Based not on the episode itself but on the court case that followed, the show seeks to examine the truth of the matter.
How the show is structured:
Act I of the play sees the case for the prosecution laid out. The evidence is examined and it's up to the jury (the audience) to decide the verdict. Act II sees the case for the defence presented in an effort to clear Ingram of the charges. Will audiences' opinions be swayed?
There are interactive elements:
Some people detest the idea of audience participation but you need not fear. There is nothing threatening or embarrassing about what is asked of audiences here. Everyone will have a keypad, much like the audiences in the Millionaire studio had. There is a quiz to play along with, lifelines to join in with and, of course, the verdict to cast. There are also some other elements along the way, but I won't spoil it. This promises to be something completely different to what is or has been in the West End. It will redefine what it can mean going to the theatre. And in a world of digital interaction, perhaps it will open up traditional theatre-going to some untapped, modern audiences.
The key players:
The play is written by double Olivier Award nominated James Graham and directed by David Evans formally of Sheffield and now Chichester. James's writing seeks to examine whether or not the Ingrams received a fair trial. There are irregularities in evidence and judicial practice that point more to a media circus than a serious trial. In a world of reality TV and fake news, Graham asks questions about truth, perceptions of truth and constructed realities.
The central figures of the show are Major Ingram and his wife Diana. We see glimpses of their home life, training for quizzes. We see snippets of the episode of Millionaire on which he featured. Chris Tarrant makes an appearance, played superbly by Greg Haiste.
Who has been involved in the show?
The writer and director have spoken to the TV producers responsible for making Millionaire to hear their side of the story. They believe the Ingrams cheated. The Ingrams visited the cast in the rehearsal room to talk to them about their side of the story. Of course, they profess their innocence. This meeting gave Gavin Spokes, who plays Charles in the play, the opportunity to observe his movements and mannerisms to help build his performance.
Why should you see this show?
After the small preview, there was a Q&A in which I asked James Graham why now was the time to re-examine the case. He feels that with the current political and media friction over truth, the story seems an apt vessel through which to explore our own values.
I also had a chat with director Daniel Evans and asked him, why people should watch the show. His response – Because it is fun, innovative and different. It is also a show that leaves audiences questioning and prompts debate
Guilty or not guilty?
Quiz opens at the Noel Coward Theatre on 31 March for 12 weeks, book your Quiz tickets here.
Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.