Are We All Losers In This Interactive Fame Game?

By Stuart Black Last edited 50 months ago
Are We All Losers In This Interactive Fame Game? ★★★☆☆ 3

Rachel Johnson, Will Barratt, Sophie Thompson and Arthur Jones.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Reality TV may seem like an obvious target for parody but it's easy to forget just how deep the form's rotten roots go. The pained desperation of the participants and the cynicism of the execs behind the scenes are both bad enough but, arguably, worse still is the voyeuristic culpability of the audience. Skewering all three offenders with simple but pleasing precision is new play Losers, a strong fringe effort from four recently-graduated theatre students calling themselves Tit4Twat.

In the rickety confines of Brick Lane's Rag Factory, Rachel Johnson, Sophie Thompson, Arthur Jones and Will Barratt tell us they are filming a video that they can send to Channel 4 to prove their dedication to reality TV and thereby secure a place on a show. Having been brought up on brain-suppurating fare such as Big Brother and Bake Off, they all share the same destiny: to become as famous as Jade Goody or double their Facebook friends trying. The four frisky young starlets are as sweet as they are misguided, which makes it all the more painful when the games they play start turning more sadistic and sour.

Everyone in the audience is given an electronic voting gizmo so they can pick their favourite candidate, which is novel and fun at first but as the show gets personal and the punishments more appalling (eating cat food at one point), the responsibility of being this interactive becomes hard to bear. Can we just abstain from voting?

The four co-creators really suffer for their art as they blur the line between what is real and what is scripted. Losers is funny then disturbing. You will squirm — especially when you realise that the four friends may not be so close by the end of the run.

The production is unpolished with frequent tech trouble and amateurish edges showing — oddly though, this helps create a sense that these really are clueless wannabes. Losers works — and deserves a transfer to a bigger venue. An experienced director could help elevate the ideas, though if that does happen the team should be careful not to lose the innocent charm that currently makes it so watchable — and also so unwatchable.

Losers is at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street (just off Brick Lane), E1 5LJ,​ with performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7.30pm until 1 February. Tickets are £8.

Last Updated 10 January 2015