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Stephanie Street and Gavin Spokes in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

Why you should see James Graham’s Quiz

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson Published 11 April 2018

How do you celebrate winning your first Olivier Award with Mastercard for Best New Comedy? Well, if you’ve the brilliant mind of James Graham, you enjoy the opening night of your contender for next year’s – that’s how.

Quiz opened at the Noël Coward Theatre last night to an excellent reception. And while it’s certainly a hilarious comedy about the tropes and tricks of British game show culture – you’ll feel the ground shift beneath your feet in self-reflection throughout – there’s also plenty more to it than that. These are the reasons you need to see it.

The references

Gavin Spokes and Keir Charles in Quiz at Chichester Festival Theatre (Photo: Johan Persson)

Gavin Spokes and Keir Charles in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

It may just be that I’m a Challenge nut – it’s a channel that’s never off the television in my flat – but Quiz’s integration of cornerstone British quiz television is ingenious.

The main plotline follows the infamous case of the ‘Coughing Major’ Charles Ingram. Charles, played with subversive humility by Gavin Spokes, was the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? contestant whose audience plant lit the path to a million pound victory. But you can also expect pitch-perfect references and spot-on impressions from the cast of the likes of Bullseye, The Price Is Right, and even your local pub quiz.

And it’s all set inside a… well… large, luminescent hexahedron… a Cube, one might call it…

It’s constantly engaging

Stephanie Street, Gavin Spokes and Henry Pettigrew in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

Stephanie Street, Gavin Spokes and Henry Pettigrew in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

Sometimes, the phrase “audience interaction” is enough to send most potential attendees running to the hills. But with Quiz, it’s a central element that should be considered an attraction for everybody.

Brilliantly tongue-in-cheek, yet entirely self-deprecating and non-invasive (nobody will be left red-faced), the audience members become contestants, accomplices, studio guests, quiz teams, friends with their neighbours… and jury members, in a finale to Ingram’s trial that packs more than a thought-provoking punch.

Absorbingly watchable, yet satisfyingly complex, Quiz treads this fine line with aplomb.

Quiz is unique

The company of Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

The company of Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

In case you hadn’t already guessed, Quiz really is unlike any other West End show stylistically. Above all else, it’s fun – a grotesque parody of gameshow culture spearheaded by a tireless cast (Keir Charles, Sharon Ballard and Greg Haiste particularly shining), with a skit-a-minute energy sure to send you laughing all the way home.

But it’s also fantastically meta-theatrical, and in providing such a hyperbolic parody, it completely exposes the manipulative mechanics of the quizzes we know and love.

That. ending.

Mark Meadows, Gavin Spokes and Charles Ingram in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

Mark Meadows, Gavin Spokes and Charles Ingram in Quiz (Photo: Johan Persson)

Quiz’s most memorable moments are probably its final few seconds. It’s the perfect way to sign off the show – one that leaves you bewildered, grasping and, fittingly, questioning, the transformation which has taken place.

To say more would be to spoil the twist, but one thing’s for sure: James Graham’s genius shines through once again. You need to see Quiz – and yes, that’s my final answer.

Book your Quiz tickets today!

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Tagged:
gavin spokes greg haiste james graham keir charles opening night quiz reasons to see sharon ballard

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