New Rob Drummond play Quiz Show staged at Traverse Theatre
Ensemble work explores knowledge and truth
Rob Drummond thinks back to when he was a young boy, and he remembers his dad enjoying a steady diet of television quiz shows. They sucked him in too, and fed the inquisitive, exploring nature which would go on to mould his theatre craft. In a young but exciting career, the Glasgow-based performer has learned to be a professional wrestler in Wrestling and coerced audience members to shoot him in the face with a pistol during the dramatised magic show Bullet Catch.
‘Quiz Show looks at what knowledge is and what truth is, and if truth is ever really possible given the subjective nature of things,’ he says of his new show at the Traverse, a more traditional ensemble work which he’s written but won’t be appearing in, directed by the Trav’s associate director Hamish Pirie. ‘Truth is the ultimate goal, and the more science tells us about the world the closer we get to that, but magic and wrestling also tell us a lot about truth and reality. Wrestling is staged, but as I found out to my cost it’s also real – you do fall; you do hurt yourself. Just as the quiz show format is fake, but there’s a certain reality within that.’
In part-homage to Robert Redford’s film of the same name, Quiz Show pits a new challenger against a reigning champion, although Drummond won’t reveal whether or how it plays with form like his earlier works. ‘I don’t really like the word “twist”,’ he says, ‘because it suggests a kind of hokey trick. I prefer subverting what you think you’re watching. It’s a weird reference, but the early work of M Night Shyamalan was good for that – after a while you realise it’s a completely different genre of film you’re seeing. But then, I think all good plays are thrillers in one way or another, because they’ll have audiences constantly second-guessing what it is they’re watching.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 29 Mar to Sat 20 Apr