By Rob Drummond
Directed by Max Truax
At Strawdog Theatre Company
Weird quiz show parody morphs into inner thoughts
I ended up with conflicting thoughts about Strawdog Theatre’s production of British playwright Rob Drummond’s Quiz Show. Maybe if the early Quiz Show scenes were more like an authentic quiz show instead of getting those scenes dangerously close to parody. Maybe if there was a hint or foreshadow of the major change in direction of the play. As it now plays, Quiz Show is a reaction play to events in Britain that found a BBC game show host , Jimmy Savile, being accused of pedophilia and other crimes against children.
I, like most in the theatre, had no knowledge of such an incident before entering. Maybe it would help to know where this provocative drama was headed. The early TV Quiz Show elements tried for realism but never quite reached that threshold. What came across was parody of quiz shows with quirky characters and an obnoxious host, Daniel Caplin (Anderson Lawfer).
As the show – “False” proceeds, it quickly becomes apparent that not all questions to the three contestants, are equal in toughness. Molly (Nikki Klix), Ben (Paul Fagen), and Sandra (Sarah Goeden) never played on a level playing field. At different times, either Sandra or Molly were favored with easy questions. Eventually these tactics lead to a ‘contestant revolt’ as Ben pulled out a handgun and shot Molly in the head, killing her instantly.
Things spiraled out from there moving this play from a parody to a surreal psychological internal exercise. Without any set-up, this strange happening seems a stretch, at best, as Sandra launches into a few long monologues about abuse that seemed to happen to her. These ramblings seemed incoherent, wordy, and devoid of credulity. It sure seems that Strawdog Theatre was so determined to produce this play that they risked alienating their patrons with this dated work that sure begs an explanation to their audience. Outside on the street, several audience members expressed their dislike for Quiz Show .
I must say that the cast, especially Sarah Goeden and Anderson Lawfer, lead a ‘game’ troupe of actors through this weird and incomplete play.
At Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, www.strawdog.org, tickets $28, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays ay 4pm, running time is2 hours with intermission, through June 13, 2015