The world of reality TV is one which is often satirised and picked apart by artists and performers as an exploration of modern intrigue in the personal lives of others. In this new work, from young company Tit4Twat, comes an inventive and original show where the idea of our celebrity culture is laid bare (at one point, quite literally) and the fates of the performers are placed in the audience’s hands.
The show entails the four performers taking part in challenges to show the audience that they are destined for reality TV stardom, vying for their vote via interactive voting controls to determine who will be “remembered forever, just like Jade Goody”. The blackly comic approach to the subject is a nice framing for the satirical bite of the piece, with the challenges beginning as silly and seemingly trivial, and becoming more personal and more revealing.
When the show gets to its most interesting peaks is when it feels like the contestants are at their most genuine, revealing truths about themselves to the audience and each other that are (or at least appear to be) completely sincere and in the moment. Here the audience are drawn in to the spectacle of the production and the group’s point about where the line of personal invasion in reality TV can be drawn – how far contestants will go to grab that illusive fifteen minutes of fame? The punishments for the losing contestants become harsher and harsher as the show goes on, featuring some ice buckets, dog food, hammers and more. The knowledge that the performers do not know who is going to be performing the forfeits each night creates a genuine tension.
The show overall feels like it needs a little further development to keep the momentum up and the feeling that the reactions and actions of the contestants are genuine. A greater cohesion in the piece would really benefit the relationship between the audience and performers, as well as reinforce the apparent aspirations of the characters in the show.
The interactive nature of this production sets it apart from anything I’ve seen before. The fact that it is down to the audience who wins or loses not only makes you feel more involved, but more responsible. When you vote, you think about who you want to win and not who may lose and therefore face punishment. This drives home the message that there are individuals who are so eager to please and gain celebrity status they will forfeit huge amounts. Is it us who are responsible or them?
While the show isn’t perfect, it did something that many shows before have failed to do – it has made me think. Walking out of the theatre, you can’t help but question what has just happened and what will happen in the next performance. This result is a sign of truly interactive and innovative theatre.
Losers plays at The Rag Factory until 1 February. For tickets and more information, see The Rag Factory website.