There’s nothing more annoying than when you go to see a play and an audience member coughs at an inappropriate time. Yet you can’t help but smile at every unscheduled raspy throat-clearing, hack and wheeze during Quiz at The Lowry.

After all, this is a show all about the infamous Coughing Major, who cheated his way to take the jackpot on ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (WWTBAM). Inspired by real-life events and based on the book ‘Bad Show: The Quiz, The Cough, The Millionaire Major’, Quiz tells the tale of how Major Charles Ingram bagged the coveted seven-digit sum.

If you managed to catch the ITV adaptation of the play which aired in 2020 then you might have some idea of what to expect. Quiz takes us along through the maze of conspiracy theories which surround the scandal, unpicks at the various threads and ultimately asks us what we really think happened.

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Before it even begins the audience is given a hint of what to expect as each member is handed a small keypad with - you guessed it - the options A,B,C,D. As soon as the characters take to the stage you already feel immersed in the WWTBAM audience with the tense music and dramatic lighting ramping up the atmosphere.

A scene from Quiz at The Lowry showing three actors on stage and dramatic lighting
Quiz at The Lowry

Although we’re not greeted with the familiar WWTBAM set, but that of a courtroom. Quiz focuses on the trial of Charles Ingram (Lewis Reeves) and his wife Diana (Charley Webb) and invites the audience to act as the jurors (“Guilty or not guilty - it’s 50/50!”). Act one is the case for the prosecution, while act two is the case for defence.

It’s cleverly done as we’re introduced to the people involved and hear their sides of the story, with the set constantly switching from a courtroom to a TV studio and even a pub in Wiltshire where the Ingrams honed their quizzing techniques. We’re introduced to how the format of Millionaire was developed, and, naturally, we first meet Rory Bremner’s excellent Chris Tarrant as he’s wearing a robe and sipping on a cocktail.

Charles and Diana Ingram in Quiz
Charles and Diana Ingram in Quiz

Quiz is fast paced and fun with a tight script that guarantees cackles from the audience. Corrie fans (of which there must have been a few in The Lowry audience) rejoiced when we were asked to put our keypads to use and answer the question ‘Who is Audrey Roberts’ daughter?’ - interestingly not everyone got it right, which is rather embarrassing for a Greater Manchester audience, although at least a million pounds wasn’t at stake.

Bremner’s Chris Tarrant is spot on and he captures all of his mannerisms without verging on parody, while Lewis Reeves has perfected the charm of the bumbling major. One of the best comedic performances comes from Sukh Ojla, who takes on a range of roles from production manager on WWTBAM to a police officer but always sparks laughter from the audience.

Charles' army colleagues celebrate his big win
Charles' army colleagues celebrate his big win

Throughout are clever montages, which explore the different facets of the tale. The syndicate scene looks at the network of quiz fanatics who helped the Ingrams get on the show and a hilarious section with a green screen captures the international media frenzy the trial kicked off.

Amusing Quiz may be, frothy and light it is not. This is a play which asks you to delve deeper about what really happened, makes you think about the ethics of reality TV and asks if you can really cheat on a show like WWTBAM. At times, it really gives you the urge to cough, too.

Quiz is superb. And that's my final answer.

Quiz is on at The Lowry theatre from Tuesday October 24 until Saturday October 28.

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