Pub Quiz Champion has its last showing this Sunday (July 20th) at 6:30pm at the Etcetera theatre.
So why a pub quiz?
The question I’ve not been asked, but I’m sure some readers of this blog have been wondering is: given all the wild and varied settings we explored in the early stages of the process, why did we take forward something as mundane as a pub quiz?
While our process focuses a lot on settings at the beginning – and that’s important to give the actors context to work in – in truth the ultimate success of the play relies on drawing the audience into the characters and their relationships with each other.
The second studio piece, Last Order, started with a single two-hander scene between a crippled husband returned from war to the wife he left behind. The third studio piece, The Words I Keep Secret, started with a simple family dinner between a mother, son and daughter in a restaurant. It was the relationships, rather than the settings, that provided our way into the story. In several ways, Pub Quiz Champion combines both the relationship hook of these pieces and the exploration of individual character that powered the first studio piece, Ups & Downs.
For the relationship we have the triangle between current pub quiz champion Steve (created by Francis Whittaker), his long-term girlfriend Alice (created by Maeve McClenaghan) and his quiz-mate / old school-friend Lauren (created by Kim Morrison). It was clear from the first improvisation that the veiled tensions between these characters had stage potential.
For the characters we have a diverse array of old quiz-hands and new talent. All drama is rooted in contrast and – after we’d chosen the pub quiz setting – we quickly established that we wanted to highlight the contrast between the characters’ professional or home lives and the people they became in the heated rivalry of the quiz. We have Donovan (created by Ivo Dinkov), a therapist who’s great at giving advice but unable to take it; Collette (created by Vanessa Okello) whose professional veneer conceals a woman of passionate determination; the fun-loving Jodie (created by Fiona Thomas) whose pranks are a release valve from her dark daily life; and the local barfly Clive (created by James Tully) who struggles between his weakness and his faded nobility.