Blending populism, impressionist comedy, and social satire, QUIZ is an interactive and thought-provoking theatrical experience.
Six years after its initial success, James Graham’s QUIZ makes a welcome return to the stage as part of a new UK tour.
Based on real events, QUIZ delves into the origins of the iconic quiz show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE and the notorious “coughing Major” scandal of 2001, where Charles Ingram cheated his way to the £1 million prize with the help of his wife and an accomplice.
Seamlessly jumping between Southwark Crown Court and the TV studio, the play is visually captivating, thanks to the ingenious set design by Robert Jones.
Directors Daniel Evans and Seán Linnen maintain a tight grip on the narrative, while Ryan Day’s lighting design and Ben and Max Ringham’s sound design create a palpable sense of tension that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.
The strength of the production lies in its exceptional cast. As Chris Tarrant, Rory Bremner flawlessly embodies the mannerisms and easy manner of the TV host.
Lewis Reeves delivers a nuanced performance as the disarmingly sweet and squeaky-clean Charles Ingram, capturing the character’s vulnerability, while EMMERDALE’s Charley Webb is equally excellent in her stage debut as the sober and strait-laced Diana.
The actors’ uncanny resemblances to their real-life counterparts enhance the authenticity of the story, drawing the audience deeper into the unfolding drama.
Unlike the 2020 three-part TV adaptation, the stage play is more than just a simple dramatisation of events. Its strength lies in its exploration of complex themes like class, power biases, and trial by media. Showing both sides of the story, Graham literally places the power in the audience’s hands, arming them with keypads to vote and make their own judgments about the characters’ guilt or innocence.
However, at just over two hours long, the play could benefit from trimming. Unnecessary scenes, like a flashback to the Ingrams’ engagement, and overly detailed analyses of the show’s syndicates disrupt the flow. Additionally, the meta-commentary, while insightful, becomes excessively self-referential, muddling the storyline.
Nevertheless, QUIZ remains a compelling courtroom drama, skillfully blending populism, politics, impressionist comedy, and social satire. It challenges viewers to ponder truth and deception, creating a deeply engaging and thought-provoking theatrical experience.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.