Quiz, the story of cheating to a million on Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire? is a highly theatrical narrative of blindsiding, hoodwinking and Craig David’s first album.
After being dead good at quizzes down the pub, Diana Ingram (Charley Webb) along with Diana’s brother Adrian Pollock (Jay Taylor) get caught up in the underground general knowledge illuminati. Diana’s husband, poor old Major Charles Ingram (Lewis Reeved), is just a patsy in all of this.
Adrian Pollock had been on the show FIVE TIMES by joining the cream of the underground quiz-swindlers doing the rounds secretly on the show. Adrian soon scuttled off to anonymity drowning in sweat and debts. Charles is then tutored to screw his finger to fastest first by Diana and next minute they are rising to the top. Charles got ideas above his rank and went for the big prize aided by Tecwin Whittock (Marc Antolin), who he didn’t even know, coughing at the right answers. Well, they got found out didn’t they? And forever – triest as she mayest – Diana can’t wash that gold ticker tape from her iconic Mona Lisa hair, as it all came down to her devious ways. It’s always the woman’s fault innit?
The production is a hilarious and also an insightful ensemble piece with masterful leads and a superb supporting cast. The pop references, pertaining to the pub quiz and the tv quiz are a delight for the audience. I always find an ensemble adds extra entertainment – watching actors skilfully transform on the turn of a coin. There is a corrie moment with Danielle Henry and Rory Bremner that we all loved at The Lowry. And Bremner is of course pitch perfect as Chris Tarrant. For this performance Dean Graham played Mark Benton’s usual roles and was superb. The set adapts easily from courtroom to studio to pub. And there is the iconic Millionaire music, lights and screens, so we feel we do feel we are there with them.
It’s all fun and games until your pets are attacked. And I’m mindful that their lives were ruined by something, if James Graham’s play is to be considered as a theory, they may not have done. These days we are used to narrative being left on the cutting room floor. But back then, we would have believed the edit. We get a real insight into the gameshow’s development.
The thing that the show really spotlights for me is – why would the Ingram’s go to all that effort – all that strategic nerding around to bring an obvious and childish device? ‘Cough-cough-bullshit-cough-cough.’ Although, I mean, it might be true. We don’t know for sure do we? Like everything in Britain now there’s one side or the other. Which is quite poignant as we were stuck in the traffic for ages as the Copenhagen fans were cattled up to Old Trafford.
I wonder if the lead team behind Quiz had been waiting to redo the show when we were all allowed to cough again? No one knew in the early days of the play, back in 2017, that coughing in a theatre could be its future downfall. Some theatres haven’t really recovered from that. We all had a good old cough when we were invited to. And we all enjoyed having the ‘ask the audience button’ without sanitising it. Unsanitary is the new rock ‘n’ roll. This little bit of the past reminding us that we are hoodwinked and bamboozled all the time. And it wouldn’t be the first time that clearing the throat would bring in a fortune for the few…ahem…
Quiz: the coughing Major millionaire scandal is at The Lowry from 24-28 October before continuing on tour.