Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

02/11/2019 - 02/11/2019

Tron Fringe 2019

Production Details

“Mystery challenger, will you enter and sign in, please”

A local tribute to the classic, 1950-1967 TV game show.

Four panelists must determine guests’ occupations – and, in the case of famous guests, whilst blindfolded, their identity – asking only “yes” or “no” questions.

Cash prizes, quick wit, vintage glamour, nostalgia!

Venue: The Meteor
Date: 2nd November
Time: 8:30pm
Entry $15 / Concession $10
Buy tickets here.

Theatre ,

Delivers wit, glamour, nostalgia and hilarity

Review by Gail Pittaway 03rd Nov 2019

In the days before Survivor and TheatreSports, let alone before there was MasterChef, there was a charming, classy panel game show from American TV channel CBS, in which four panellists had to guess the line, or occupation, of up to four mystery guests, asking only questions which required a Yes or No answer. Sounds simple, but in reality it looks hard!

The revival of this game show as an offering for the Hamilton Fringe is the brainwave of Richard Swainson and Janine Swainson, who already offer entertaining and well-researched pub quizzes and movie themed events, from out of their boutique video (etc.) store, Auteur House.  They set this show up exactly along the lines of the 1950s and 60s model, with excited voice-over announcement, classic theme music from the original TV show, then having each panellist introduce the next until all four, plus Richard Swainson as MC and adjudicator, in the place of John Daly, the suave host of the TV original, are onstage.

The set-up has two long tables facing each other diagonally, one for the panellists and the other for the host and mystery guest. Each mystery guest enters, signs their name on a chalk board, and the questions begin.

The clincher is that if the panel cannot guess the ‘line’ of the guest by ten questions, the panellist goes away with prize money, up to $50.00, or $5.00 for each No answer. Any Yes answers allow the panellist to keep asking until they get a No response.

Local celebrities and all-round good sports are led in by Janine Swainson herself and yes, while this offers every possibility for conflict of interest, nobody cares as it’s all for entertainment! Janine, looking glamorous in a floaty pink number with sequined bodice that would grace any ballroom, momentarily confuses the audience as to whether it’s Strictly Come Dancing or a quiz show. She introduces local actor and writer, Benny Marama, looking a little uncomfortable – though whether that’s over the formal attire or anxiety over the demands of the show is not clear.

Benny then introduces Margaret Evans, a former mayor of Hamilton, also elegantly attired in long skirt and glittering gold waistcoat. After Margaret has introduced Graeme Cairns, “Laird McGillicuddy”, chief of the Clan McGillicuddy, resplendent in full kilted attire, he calls in the host, Dr Swainson, in flash suit and tie. It’s a cute format and they all do it well.

There’s a bit of awkwardness in the first round, when Richard Swainson initially neglects to call in his friendly elf who has the occupation of each guest written on a white board, to show the audience. And nobody comes near guessing the ‘line’ of this first guest, a petrol station attendant, nor the second, a Public Relations consultant, so each of these goes away with a good wodge of dosh. 

The last two guests are a tattoo artist and Dominatrix, respectively, and I’m not sure what it says about our expectations of occupations these days, but these two are guessed. It’s fun watching the panellists flounder, attempting to make their questions yield useful clues, though it is also easy to see how they are misled by the simplicity of the yes/ no answers.

MC Swainson gets into his stride, decisive on the grey areas, flipping over the cards of $5.00 amounts with increasing pace. Marama almost has a melt-down, then recovers himself, resorting to comedic repetition of easy questions that might give a yes answer. Cairns and Evans, former political rivals, now team members, press on with astute questions and careful recollection. There is almost a domestic scene between the two Swainsons when it becomes apparent that the panellist has overheard some of the conversations between her husband and some guests, in the preceding weeks.

But order is restored and when the celebrity guest, another former mayor, Julie Hardaker, appears, after the panellists are blindfolded, in a fetching array of eye masks, as a team they uncover her identity. 

Billed as a show offering ‘quick wit, vintage glamour, nostalgia and hilarity’, this production delivers on all elements and is an entertaining and fun night out.


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