Review: ★★ Exceptional Promise, Bush Theatre

Exceptional Promise is a new gameshow, performed in front of the Studio audience, at The Bush Theatre.

Raising the question: Do you belong? The title of the game show ‘exceptional promise’, comes directly from the UK government specification on who they deem is worthy enough to apply for a tier 1 visa: they must prove ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’. The three creatives: Salome Wagaine, Bisola Elizabeth Alabi and Emily Aboud supported by Project 2036 have created a live game show- with sought after prize of imaginary ‘deeds to a house’ and they play the contestants themselves.

Each night there is a different artist presenting, and this is the first time that they have seen the script so they muddle their way through opening up chats with the audience and questioning the contestants. With a silver fringed stage, three glitter podiums, retro buzzer noises and ‘you win’ voice overs, the stage is set up in a true game show style. There is also a makeshift step ladder in the middle- with cut out photos of the contestants’ faces- whose aim is to win the rounds and move up the ladder to win the deeds.

The game show starts off well, with background music and coloured lights setting the scene- the trivia rounds and questions are fast paced and there is a true excitement in the air. However, as the artist muddles through the script there are a couple of stops and starts with the improvising, and the team seem to drop the ball with keeping the pace and energy of a real game show and we see more rather than contestants but of artists trying to push through and get through the rounds to find the winner.

The trivia questions were also very random, based on films, popular culture and even ‘names of cereal’ and perhaps if they were making a point about a gameshow that is based on belonging in UK and the stringent criteria for getting a visa- they could have been more topical potentially like the British citizenship test?

The gameshow is a short piece, lasting about 55 minutes. It’s a fun, innovative way to make a point about belonging in this current political climate- however- it misses the mark slightly in poignancy and feels a bit superficial at times.


Victoria Margaret

Victoria Margaret
Victoria Margaret

Victoria Margaret is a northern girl lost in London. She is a huge fan of dogs, cups of tea, cake and gravy – not necessarily all at same time. A lover of all things theatre and film; she’s having a ball reviewing for Upper Circle Theatre.

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