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REVIEW: The Wrong Honourable Game Show at Northern Stage

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The Wrong Honourable Game Show
Newcastle Northern Stage
Thursday 13th April 2017

The Wrong Honourable Game Show is an anarchic barrel of laughs that can be taken on one of two levels. Either it is an abrasive commentary on the disconnect between our elected representatives in the Westminster bubble and the electorate or it is a just a laugh with strong undertones of the Generation Game. It all depends upon how deep you want to take it.

The show began life at Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre as The Wrong Honourable Game Gentlemen in their 3-day theatre challenge. Theatre Hoodang have reflected upon the last 9 months of political turmoil and created an hour long show with plenty of opportunity for audience participation. At times the show resembled The Price Is Right as volunteers were called forward to take part. Having said that, the theatre company aim not to embarrass people when they do join in.

The show begins with Craig Fairbairn and Dale Jewitt, both wearing V for Vandetta masks, dancing on stage as the game show hosts. They introduce the 2 victims: Tory MP Louisa Wood (Kat Pierce) and Labour MP Jonathan Trott (William Wyn Davies). Bound and gagged they are wheeled in front of the audience. To referee the match Millie Harris skips onto the set and she explains the rules. The 2 sets of seats conveniently split the audience into 2 teams. After a series of challenges the winner will be set free.

The rounds come under the headings like “scandal” and “media” and involve fun activities like bursting balloons or scooping beans. Nothing was too taxing but, by the same token, it was fun.

Now the success of such a show will depend entirely how much the audience are willing to get involved. Luckily tonight’s crowd were up for it. Volunteers gave their names and home towns like TV game show contestants. The rest of the audience laughed, cheered and clapped - they supported the show and became, very much, a part of the action.   

The three hosts were lively and engaging. They had to respond when members of the audience didn’t quite behave as they had anticipated. Balloons bursting and headphone-wearing added additional challenges.  

I do wonder what was being played in those headphones? Knowing composer Pablo Melons, it will be Jellyfish’s The King Is Half-Undressed.

Kat Pierce and William Wyn Davies became political stereotypes: the power hungry right winger versus the left wing backbencher who lacked public profile. They wouldn’t be out of place as complementary characters to James and Barnaby in The Revolution Will Be Televised. 

Congratulations should also go to the participants for the audience. They came from Chesterfield through to Glasgow and kept the good spirits going.

The show was rated as for ages 16+. Given the sort of thing that happens on a 12 cert movie these days I would be happy for that figure to be lowered.

The concept was fun and it generally worked. Perhaps some of the challenges need slight alterations, or revised instructions, but the basic premise works. This is a very good fringe comedy show that can be scaled up to bigger venues. Certainly it is better than much of what we saw last summer in Edinburgh. The sold out Stage 3 audience left happy with grins on their faces. It was a fun night out and I look forward to Theatre Hoodang’s next adventure.

Review by Stephen Oliver.


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