Quiz by James Graham’ Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th October 2023
2:22 A Ghost Story by Danny Robins Tuesday 31st October to Saturday 4th November 2023
A puzzle and a spooky story are calling in at The Lowry, Salford this Autumn.
The puzzle comes in the form of Quiz . It stars renowned impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner as quizmaster Chris Tarrant. The play is based on the infamous ‘Coughing Major’ episode of the hit ITV programme Who Wants to be a Millionaire, in 2001.
courtesy of The Lowry
James Graham’s play leaves open the question of whether the Ingrams and fellow quizzer Tecwen Whittock really did short-cut their way to the £1,000,000 maximum prize via a throaty form of audience participation. In the spirit of the show, audience members get to vote at the end of the play whether they think the Ingrams were innocent or guilty.
Diana Ingram will be played by Charley Webb who was Debbie Dingle in soap opera, Emmerdale. Lewis Reeves, who played DC Jake Collier in the ITV drama Unforgotten, will play the Major. Mark Benton of Early Doors and BBC One’s Shakespeare & Hathaway fame plays Judge Rivlin along with other roles in the story.
The play was dramisatised by ITV in 2020. It was directed by Stephen Frears and starred Michael Sheen and Matthew Macfadyen. The sadly departed Helen McCrory played the barrister who defended the Ingram’s at Southwark Crown Court.
James Graham has won plaudits and awards for his TV dramas and stage plays, which are often on political themes, including This House about the 1970s Labour government and last year’s Sherwood inspired, in part, by real events surrounding the 1980s Miners Strike and focused on the Nottinghamshire village in which Graham grew up. The second series, directed by Clio Barnard, is currently being filmed with a million dollar lineup including David Harewood, Robert Lindsay, Monica Dolan, David Morrissey and Lesley Manville, amongst other stars.
Graham’s latest play Dear England premiered at the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre this year, with Joseph Fiennes in the role of England football manager Gareth Southgate.
The spooky story comes to The Lowry for Halloween, a week after Quiz, in the spectre of 2:22 A Ghost Story . It has previously brought two singers to the London Stage. Lily Allen starred as Jenny in the play's debut at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2021. Cheryl took on the role at the Lyric this year.
Jenny believes her new home is haunted - “There's something in our house. I hear it every night, at the same time…”. Her husband Sam takes a different view. Charlene Boyd and Joe Absolom take on the roles at The Lowry.
Courtesy of The Lowry
The play is in the spirit of Danny Robin's podcasts/BBC Radio 4 series Uncanny and The Battersea Poltergeist. It leaves open the question of whether we are witnessing the manoeuvres of ghosts in the night or the effects of psychological pressure and sleep deprivation. Like Quiz, it credits the audience with the intelligence to form their own judgement.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends in July, Danny Robbins said that the inspiration for his play came from a friend telling him she’d seen a ghost and wondering how other friends would respond to her conviction on the matter. He added: ”We need ghosts . . .. either they are real or we as a society have this need for a kind of comfort blanket or some sort of buffer between us and death. The funny thing about ghosts is that as frightening as they are, they are less frightening than death.”
The Lowry notes that Quiz is a fictional imagination based on real events which took place in 2001 following an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? It is not in any way connected with the makers of the programme or any of the individuals portrayed.