‘Quiz’ review – James Graham’s ‘coughing major’ play explores justice in a post-truth era

James Graham’s latest play Quiz is one of binary oppositions. At its heart, audience members tackle the question of whether ‘coughing major’ Charles Ingram was guilty or not guilty of cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, whilst also exploring truth versus falsehood, and showbiz versus justice.

Photo: Johan Persson.

No doubt a political playwright, Graham says the “curious overlapping of light entertainment with criminal justice” in the Ingram case became a “prominent theme” whilst working on the play. Yet this particular point feels lost in amongst the nostalgic, exaggerated and slightly excessive quiz presenter impressions by Keir Charles (although this portrayal was most likely deliberate), the brief media circus scenes, gimmicks in the court case and the audience pub quiz. Although a treat for hardcore gameshow fans, the connection is a weak one.

Perhaps the strongest point suggested by Graham is one around post-truth – a political concept surging in importance in a time of Trump and Brexit. As both acts explore different narratives in the trial before asking the audience to vote, confirmation bias and manipulation are thrust into the spotlight for the crowd’s scrutiny. In a time where we find ourself subscribing to different narratives and interpretations of the facts, the investigation of this through the courtroom is Graham’s strongest point.

Accompanying the thought-provoking writing are some great performances from the cast. Utopia‘s Gavin Spokes delivers an impressive performance as the eccentric major, Stephanie Street is a solid Diana Ingram and Greg Haiste plays a variety of roles with vibrancy. Sarah Woodward and Paul Bazely also give enthusiastic portrayals of the two lawyers involved in the trial.

Chuck all this in with audience participation and a fourth wall break, and you have a thrilling multi-media production that both investigates and challenges reality. Quiz is a must for big thinkers and gameshow fanatics.

Rating: 4/5

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Review: ‘Gameshow’ by Two Door Cinema Club

It’s been three years. The upbeat guitar riffs of Tourist History and Beacon have to be adapted to suit a completely different market. For any band, an album is a chance to try out new directions. Gameshow is the eagerly anticipated third album from Two Door Cinema Club, which sees them burst back into the music industry with euphoric electronica mixed with haunting guitar riffs.

GAMESHOW COVER
Two Door Cinema Club are back with ‘Gameshow’. It’s time for music lovers to rediscover them again.

The first glimpse at their new direction through Are We Ready? (Wreck) – a track with gloomy guitar melodies and synthesisers. With lyrics and a music video poking fun at consumerism, fans knew the band’s latest release will take a edgier, darker tone.

That is, until Bad Decisions, Gameshow and Ordinary all challenged expectations of what Two Door’s new style will be. It’s only when the album was released today in full that we could see which avenues the trio are exploring.

It’s a record which combines vibrant funk with gritty rock. Sam offers new, hard-hitting and fluttering guitar tunes, groovy songs such as Fever and Je Viens De La give bassist Kevin free rein, and Alex tries his hand at falsetto – something which mimics the Scissor Sisters and The BeeGees in terms of style, but also provides a modern spin.

It’s a wise move for Two Door Cinema Club to take. Funk is a genre which has been slowly creeping into the spotlight. After Gameshow, we may just see the popularity of this music style increase further.

Yet, at the same time, the album bursts to life with the synth-heavy Are We Ready? (Wreck) and we hear a Kings of Leon-like tone on the rough title track. That is until the track, Lavender, complete with calm, mellow vocals and punchy guitar riffs, which kickstarts the more laid-back songs and the funky side of the album.

Fever is the smooth alternative to Bad Decisions and a perfect track to drive along to late at night. Meanwhile, Invincible is more reflective and emotional, placing emphasis on Alex’s soft, mumbling vocals. However, this album does not reach a calm atmospheric (to end the record on such a tone would go against the new style the band are trying to create). Instead, Je Viens De La is the fast-paced funk track which sums up Two Door’s new direction: funky, electronic, falsettos and more creative guitar melodies.

Gameshow is a wonderfully diverse third album for Two Door Club, they’ve moved forward without leaving their old style behind (as we hear in Ordinary‘s plucky guitars). This contrast and the individualism of each song is what makes Gameshow such an intricate, diverse and powerful album. After a long absence, Two Door Cinema Club are back. It’s time for music fans to rediscover the band and fall in love with them all over again.

Rating: 4/5

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Ordinary’ by Two Door Cinema Club

Gameshow is two days away, and Two Door Cinema Club have intrigued fans with singles which span various musical genres. The band’s three-year absence has both allowed and forced them to adapt their style. Their third album clearly has a darker tone at its core – whether it be masked behind Bad Decisions‘ poppy falsetto or through the gloomy electronica of Are We Ready? (Wreck). The Irish trio have moved away from the upbeat, vibrant style we hear in Tourist History, but not completely. For the fans who will inevitably moan about the band’s new direction, or for those who miss their old songs, Ordinary may just be the track for them.

With vocal melodies reminiscent of Handshake, the final single to be taken from Gameshow is a reassuring one for those who prefer TDCC’s fuzzy guitar and bass riffs – complete with a bouncy drum beat – right at the forefront of the song.  That being said, the electronic undertones is something present in the band’s most recent releases. It’s a track which fuses Two Door Cinema Club’s new direction with their past work. It’s the perfect middle ground.

Once again, like Bad Decisions, we hear a more falsetto and high-pitched voice from Alex. It’s a risk which pulled off for the lead singer, and in terms of instrumental developments, we still hear the catchy, flourishing guitar tunes which the band are known for, but in tracks such as Gameshow and Are We Ready? (Wreck) there’s a slightly eerie, electronic and gritty style.

Ordinary is a single which bridges the gap between old and new for Two Door Cinema Club. If there’s more of these types of tracks on the album, then fans uncertain about the wide ground which Gameshow appears to be covering in terms of genres may be satisfied. However, I’m not one of these people. From the sound of things, Two Door Cinema Club’s new release is going to be wonderfully intriguing, inventive and diverse. It’s certainly an album worth listening to when it comes out this Friday.

Whilst their first three singles are an exciting look at what’s to come, Ordinary is a refreshing look back at the band’s earlier work, which still lives on.

What do you think of Ordinary? Are you looking forward to Gameshow? Do you like their new direction? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Gameshow’ by Two Door Cinema Club

It’s an album which continues to sound unpredictable with each single that Two Door Cinema Club releases. Are We Ready? (Wreck) was more electronic in nature, Bad Decisions was a vibrant nod to the funk genre, and now, Gameshow adopts a rougher, gritty feel, which only teases fans desperate to know what the band’s eagerly anticipated third album sounds like.

The only thing we know about Gameshow (the album, that is) is that it takes a much darker turn. Aside from the haunting tone of previous releases, the music videos tell bizarre stories. Are We Ready pokes fun at commercialism whilst the lead singer, Alex, peels his face off. Meanwhile, Bad Decisions‘ weird cartoons are almost completely nonsensical, resembling a crazy hallucination.

Gameshow adds to this nature with guitar riffs you’d normally hear on a Kings of Leon or Kasabian track. It’s the hazy instruments and whiny backing vocals which really compares to the previous two singles that were more upbeat in style. It’s pretty obvious, but this song certainly isn’t upbeat like Sun or What You Know.

Each track from Two Door Cinema Club’s upcoming album appears to be completely different in style. It’s surprising, interesting, but it does mean that fans may take a while to get used to the constant change in genres.

Gameshow is growing on me slowly, but I hope my love for the track will grow when I see how it fits in what seems to be a very intriguing album.

What do you think of Gameshow? Do you like the direction in which Two Door Cinema Club are heading? What do you think of their new style? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Bad Decisions’ by Two Door Cinema Club

One month after the fast-paced Are We Ready? (Wreck), Two Door Cinema Club have offered us another glimpse at their third debut album, Gameshow. Whilst their first single featured darker guitar riffs and thoughts on consumerism, Bad Decisions still addresses a similar message about today’s society, but this time masked under vibrant, funky bass melodies. It’s certainly something different, and proves that their upcoming album remains wonderfully unpredictable.

Whether you think Bad Decisions sounds like the Scissor Sisters, The BeeGees or The 1975, it’s certainly a nod to the disco funk which everyone loved in the 80s. When Tourist History was arguably their most defining and well-known album – setting in stone their unique bass and guitar riffs – understandably, this new release took some of their fanbase by surprise. However, with a plucky bass running through the whole of this track, Two Door Cinema Club’s traditional style is still apparent – it’s just in a funk track this time.

To be honest, this song took a while to grow on me, as did Are We Ready? (Wreck). But as every track challenges our expectations of a ‘typical’ track from the band, each new release from their third album Gameshow has shown us that the trio are exploring new ground and redefining their music. This is something for fans to welcome and look forward to, rather than criticise.

In fact, the only criticism I have is not about the new style, but the falsetto vocals of Alex Trimble. Of course, it is impressive to see Alex challenge himself when it comes to his singing, but the issue lies with it being hard to decipher the lyrics. Thankfully, sites such as Genius Lyrics are on hand to help. On the whole, as a big fan of both funk and Two Door Cinema Club, I rather like this track.

What do you think of Bad Decisions? It’s certainly a different style, but do you like the direction which Two Door Cinema Club are moving in? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ by Two Door Cinema Club

I fell in love with Two Door Cinema Club’s music at the right time. Whilst at university, I came across their past two albums – Tourist History and Beacon – along with Changing of the Seasons, and admired their unique style and memorable guitar riffs. This was just before they recently announced that a third album, entitled Gameshow, will be released soon. Yesterday, the first single, Are We Ready? (Wreck) premiered on BBC Radio 1 – signifying a return for a band many people have missed.

In a photo the band posted to Twitter last week, they said that Two Door Cinema Club is “bigger, better and stronger”. With Are We Ready? (Wreck), the track certainly gives that impression, but also hints that the trio haven’t severed ties to their previous work. In their debut album, the vibrant guitar melodies were the main aspect of their music which made them stand out in the industry. Now, this returns, with the track beginning with bouncy guitar and funky bass riffs.

Unlike the relaxed guitar and bass at the start, the drum beat – and the rest of the song – is quick to progress towards a more fast-paced rhythm. Although the transition between the two grooves wasn’t the smoothest of changes, it certainly adds an exciting element to the track – something built upon during the anthem-like chorus.

If I was to compare Are We Ready (Wreck) to other artists or songs, then lead singer ‘s vocals sound slightly similar to Irwin Sparkles (from The Hoosiers) in the chorus. Plus, if you loved the pulsing and rapid track, Go! from Public Service Broadcasting, then you’ll love the driving drum beat in this single.

On a separate note, the album artwork is yet another neon design – something adopted by The 1975 for their latest album, and the Electoral Commission for their EU referendum marketing. Is this a new trend? 

Gameshow is due to be released on the 14th October.

What do you think of Are We Ready (Wreck)? Are you glad to see Two Door Cinema Club return? Comment below!

Liam