In a mischievous, clever play called “Game Show,” the greatest irony is the way a theater audience instantly conforms to the dynamics of a familiar television staple: the multi-contestant game show.
Entering Theater Schmeater’s boxy space (the company is moving after this production), it’s easy to believe you’ve entered a small studio.
Working cameras are feeding signals into a booth, where a director chooses what to relay to monitors. Applause signs flash, assistants rush about or whisper at the coffee table, an amiable comic (Thomas Maier) warms up the crowd and a no-nonsense producer (Danielle Daggerty) glides through it all like a shark.
Enter slick host Troy Richards (Brandon Felker) to charm and flirt and joke, and it’s easy to get caught up in the illusion of an actual TV broadcast. (It doesn’t hurt that Troy hands out real prizes to the audience for correctly answering trivia questions about the Tom Cruise film “Top Gun.”) When real patrons of “Game Show” are plucked from Schmeater seats to become “Jeopardy!”-like contestants, the fantasy is complete.
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It’s great fun to be both a witness and part of “Game Show,” even if one largely avoids eye contact with Troy while he recruits players for another round. During faux commercial breaks, “Game Show” is equally enjoyable as a behind-the-scenes farce about network power grabs, contract negotiations, bedhopping and other machinations.
The show’s director, Steve Cooper, the cast and production team handle layers of verisimilitude with grace and wit — a prize everyone watching can take home.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org