A seeming game-show satire reveals itself to be something much darker in Strawdog's U.S. premiere of Rob Drummond's play.
Scottish actor-playwright Rob Drummond’s twisty 2013 work presents itself at first as a straightforward stage recreation of a night on the set of a hit game show, with us as the studio audience. At first blush, it appears of a piece with the 1994 Robert Redford film that shares its name—a look at a popular quiz show that’s being fixed by its producers, this time in real time.
Slowly, though, it begins to reveal itself as an altogether different, more ambitious animal. To say too much would ruin the experience, but its inspiration is a much more recent TV scandal in the UK, and its ultimate concern more to do with the slippery nature of memories, particularly traumatic ones.
Looking back on the script from its end, the care taken Drummond’s taken in planting his seeds is impressive. But those reveals are perhaps too slow; I often felt a half-step ahead of the playwright and wishing he’d catch up. A final monologue by the contestant who becomes the central character (played with lovely vulnerability by Sarah Goeden in Strawdog’s competent, engaging U.S. premiere) could be cut; laying out explicitly and at length what we’ve really just seen, it weakens the effect by not trusting the audience to put it together themselves.
Strawdog Theatre Company. By Rob Drummond. Directed by Max Truax. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 25mins; no intermission.