Before we paid a visit to see James Graham’s latest offering, word had trickled through that this was no ordinary play. Rumours were the audience would be involved in it’s outcome…
On entering the beautiful Noel Coward Theatre in the heart of London’s west end we were immediately drawn to the individual key pads in front of each seat complete with quiz card and pen. So the rumours were true. The evening I attended the house seemed 90% full and the murmers were all about the props they were now fumbling with. As the house lights came down you sensed that the stage resembled a TV show set rather than a play. Then again it was to bring back to life the 2001 episode when a certain Major Charles Ingram was accused of cheating after bumbling his way to the top jackpot on TV’s most watched quiz show at the time – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. With his wife Diana and accomplice Tecwen Whittock, he was convicted at Southwark Crown Court. This we all knew to be fact.
Which is where the play begins…
With a slick quick interacting revolving set from start to finish, the various characters are played out through the court, pubs, home and finally TV set. Each actor is worthy of a credit, but the standout for me (and the audience) was Kier Charles in his multiple guises as hosts Des O’Connor, Jim Bowen, Leslie Crowther and the best Chris Tarrant impersonation I have ever seen. His comedic timing of each lip grimace and word stutter is impeccable. You could see every face distortion lap up the audiences appreciation. Gavin Spokes as the Major grew in stature as the play progressed and deliberately played on the audience’s heart strings through his sorrow of his wife Diana’s (played by Stephanie Street) passion for quizzes. All the while the set ebbed to and fro from courthouse to set with such speed you felt giddy. So many comical interactions between the various characters with some stand out moments – the TV interviews of the trial and the practice run to get the Major up to speed were but two. Even Trump Towers got a mention!
Oh yes the key pads….
With a resounding guilty vote in the first part from the audience, the play didn’t pull any surprises in asking them to re-examine the evidence through their eyes. The final audience vote went narrowly in favour of not guilty (53%) which apparently was similar to the on stage display of the previous 10 shows (though some did narrowly go the other way).
Director Daniel Evans has put together a clever visual show with smooth scene changes, and a cohesiveness that is impressive as of the actors ability to deliver it.
In addition, the dramatic lighting design of Tim Lutkin and Music & Sound Designers Ben & Max Ringham matched anything that a real TV show today would use.
Do go see this excellent production before it closes and my final answer is – it just might change your mind!
Quiz the Play runs Monday to Saturday 7.30 pm and matinee performances are on Wednesday & Saturday at 2.30 pm until June 16th 2018 at the Noel Coward Theatre at 85-88 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4AP.
For tickets call 0344 482 5137 or visit the box office
the cast of Quiz (as of 3rd May 2018)
(left to right) Gavin Spokes, Kier Charles, Greg Haiste (back), Lizzie Winkler, Henry Pettigrew, Stephanie Street, Mark Huckett (back),Sharon Ballard, Paul Bazely and Jay Villers.
Quiz The Play website HERE