Previewed 31 March 2018, Opened 10 April 2018, Closed 16 June 2018 at the Noel Coward Theatre
James Graham's new play Quiz in London for a strictly limited 12-week season - following a sell-out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre
This new play is a provocative re-examination of the conviction of Charles Ingram, 'the coughing Major', for cheating, following his appearance on television's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? while providing a celebration of the great tradition of the British quiz show and an analysis of the 21st century's dangerous new attitude to truth and lies.
The cast features Keir Charles as the show's host 'Chris Tarrant', Gavin Spokes as 'Charles Ingram', Stephanie Street as his wife 'Diana Ingram', Mark Meadows as their acquaintance 'Tecwen Whittock', and Sarah Woodward as the defence attorney 'Sonia Woodley QC' - who are all reprising their roles from the Chichester Theatre season - with Sharon Ballard, Greg Haiste, Henry Pettigrew, Jay Villiers, and Lizzie Winkler. Directed by Daniel Evans with movement by Naomi Said, designs by Robert Jones, video by Tim Reid, lighting by Tim Lutkin, and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham.
PLEASE NOTE: This play is a fictional imagination based on real events which took place in 2001 following an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? It is not in any way connected with the makers of the programme or any of the individuals portrayed.
When this production opened here at the Noel Coward Theatre in April 2018, Sam Marlowe in the Times hailed "James Graham's glittering play... Quiz is a winner... The production by Daniel Evans is a whirling, neon wonder, revelling in all the ludicrous comedy, desperation and pathos of a story where the stakes keep inexorably rising. It's utterly compulsive viewing." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper praised how "James Graham creates a terrific buzz with this exuberantly entertaining and thought-provoking piece." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard thought that, "after an initial outing last autumn in Chichester... it's sharper and more streamlined." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described it as being "a fun-filled anatomy of how hooked people can get on TV game-shows when the prize is right," in "Daniel Evans' deluxe production." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times commented that "James Graham's wise, sparkling new play... confirms Graham as one of our most original and engaging political playwrights... So is this astute, hugely enjoyable play, which cleverly moulds your opinion even as it shows you how it does it." Neil Norman in the Daily Express wrote that "Daniel Evans' production is part-gameshow and part-trial and skips along merrily enough as it attempts to tie all the elements together... How can we distinguish between truth and lies, fact and fiction? Given the current concerns over fake news and with social media under the microscope, Quiz is so timely that it seems more penetrating than it is." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail said it was "good light entertainment... Daniel Evansís high-spirited production wants to be more than just a spoof of that now forgotten saga... But it doesnít need to be especially profound: itís perfectly good fun as it is."
Keir Charles' West End theatre credits include Phelim McDermott's production of Patrick Barlow's stage adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2015; the role of 'Tranio' in Conall Morrison's revival of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew - for the Royal Shakespeare Company - at the Novello Theatre in 2009; and the role of 'Frank Asli' in Paul Miller's production of Axel Hellstenius' stage adapation of Ingvar AmbjÝrnsen's Elling at the Trafalgar Studios in 2007.
Gavin Spokes London stage credits include the role of 'Enoch Snow' in Lonny Price's revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel at the London Coliseum in 2017; the role of 'Nicely-Nicely Johnson' in Gordon Greenberg's revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre in 2016; and the role of 'Parsons' in the Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan stage adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre in 2014 and 2015.
James Graham's theatre credits include the comedy Labour of Love at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2017, the newspaper play Ink at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2017 and the political play This House that was staged at the Garrick Theatre in 2016.
Daniel Evans' West End directing credits include the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat at the New London Theatre in 2016; David Mamet's play American Buffalo starring Damien Lewis and John Goodman at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2015; and Simon Beaufoy's play with songs The Full Monty at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2014.
This production comes into London's West End following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre's Minerva Theatre (previewed 3 November 2017, opened on 10 November 2017 and closed on 9 December 2017) when the cast featured Keir Charles as 'Chris Tarrant', Gavin Spokes as 'Charles Ingram', Stephanie Street as 'Diana Ingram', Mark Meadows as 'Tecwen Whittock', Sarah Woodward as 'Sonia Woodley QC'. Nadia Albina, Paul Bazely, Greg Haiste, Henry Pettigrew, Jay Villiers, and Lizzie Winkler.
When this production was seen at the Chichester Festival Theatre's Minerva Theatre in November 2017, Michael Billington in the Guardian hailed it as being a "highly entertaining play... James Graham reminds us that we live in a quiz-obsessed culture." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how, with this "thorough and thoroughly entertaining treatment of the 'coughing major' controversy that beset ITV's Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in 2001, James Graham has hit the jackpot again... it delivers such a sophisticated resume of the episode that it attains the status of a 'state of the nation' drama... Daniel Evans directs with the certain inside knowledge that he has a winner on his hands. Phone a friend and go." Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted that "the second half is James Graham at his best as he contrasts the quiz show format with the subsequent court case against Charles Ingram... Graham loves detail and his best plays twine them into his tales, accentuating the realism, bolstering the drama. Quiz bristles with detail, not to mention game show razzmatazz, aided by a flash set by Robert Jones complete with a neon cube inside a moving circular walkway." Gary Shipton in the i newspaper commented how "James Graham's new play Quiz dissects the whole concept of the game show and lays it bare on the intimate Minerva stage... Nearly three hours of onstage action rattles past at speed, as the boundaries between reality, artistic conjecture and entertainment are repeatedly criss-crossed and blurred." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard said: "Quiz, it saddens me to report, is not the strongest piece of drama... James Graham, usually so sharp, seems undecided and the result is a rather frantic, centrifugal piece that skips about all over the place and settles comfortably on nothing... Graham, disappointingly and most unusually for him, manages to extrapolate no overarching thesis, meaning we're left with the sad spectacle of people cheating - or are they? - on a quiz show." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wote that "it's not perfect - the second half, for instance, feels much more flatteringly 'serious' than the first - but it confirms James Graham's talent for animating his fascination with how we involve ourselves as citizens." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail asked: "Was this a bad miscarriage of justice? So it might seem. Yet Daniel Evans's production aims for japes, accents caricatured, cameos hurried, the staging gimmicky... I would have enjoyed greater dramatic anger."
"A nation enthralled by ITV game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire found itself treated to a thrilling spin-off - the affair of the 'Coughing Major', who conspired his way to win a million. Playwright James Graham, the West End's man of the moment, has re-examined the 2001 scandal in a cracklingly ingenious interactive production. We are welcomed to a TV set by a sleazy warm-up act and, after the case for the defence and prosecution play out, we're invited to cast our electronic vote on the ultimate 50/50 - guilty or not guilty The tension created between the ritzy world of TV and the stuffier wheels of justice is brilliantly delivered by a superb cast. But there's no doubt Keir Charles - whose multiple roles include an uncannily spot-on Chris Tarrant - is guilty of stealing every one of his scenes." The Sunday Mirror
"The 34-year-old playwright James Graham... now has another hit on his hands with this sparkling new play about the 'Coughing Major'. That's Major Charles Ingram, who in 2001 won £1million from the TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Ingram didn't get his cheque. But he did get an 18-month suspended jail sentence for conspiracy to defraud the programmemaker, along with his wife and an accomplice in the audience who coughed when the right answers were read out... Cleverly revealing the similarities between showbiz and courtroom justice, the evening unfurls a story we already know. Yet it does it with mounting tension and insights into how the show was made. Gavin Spokes is good as the Major, and Stephanie Street ferociously competitive as his wife. Intriguingly, their defence barrister (Sarah Woodward) makes mincemeat of the evidence against them. Were they wrongly convicted, then? We voted and found them not guilty. But the real question is, how likely is this play to become James Graham's next West End hit? Very. That's my final answer." The Mail on Sunday
"James Graham highlights the potentially dangerous blending of entertainment, politics and justice today. Performance trumps content. It is quite a weight for this strange case to carry, and while Daniel Evans's production is always enjoyable, it often feels as if it might crack under the strain. On the shiny floor-show set, a revue-style format introduces a quick history of game shows, references to TV in parliament and challenging quiz questions for the audience to answer... Was Charles Ingram guilty? The audience gets to vote twice, and opening night came to very different conclusions. Graham asks serious questions in the most inventive ways." The Sunday Times
Quiz in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 31 March 2018, opened on 10 April 2018 and closed on 16 June 2018