Exceptional Promise at Bush Theatre
Those who have ever perused the UK Government website in search of visa information may have read: “To get a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, you need to be endorsed as a leader (exceptional talent) or emerging leader (exceptional promise)”. If you’re not the next Jeff Bezos you might find it a little harder to qualify. Here, Salome Wagaine, Bisola Elizabeth Alabi and Emily Aboud found the name for their production Exceptional Promise, now running at Bush Theatre. The three women met as part of the theatre’s Project 2036 – a three-year programme that offers BAMER creatives space to develop artistically. Perhaps discussing who qualifies to be part of British society led to broader questions of social and economic inequality in Britain and the seemingly impossible, hopelessly funny task of climbing the property ladder.
Ultimately, Exceptional Promise is a game show in which the three contestants slash producer, writer, director answer trivia questions for a fictitious but nonetheless worthy prize – the title deed to a London property. As the game progresses, the contestants answer trivia (not necessarily thematically related) and race to the top of the property ladder. An attempt to navigate what type of performance we’re at leaves theatregoers mentally midway between an almost boozy game night at a friend of a friend’s, or an open mic where one only catches the guy introducing the acts. Both options have the potential for fun. You just need time to get into it.
The show’s conceit is that the host changes each night. The new comedian is clearly trying to figure out what’s going on at the same time as the spectators. Last night’s host was Brian Lobel, a charismatic, self-proclaimed ex-camp counsellor, whose first duty was to read the house rules. The first and most important rule: “no shouting out the answers!” This restriction is odd for a show that is in need of some audience participation without any real prize.
It’s scrappy fun and the contestants and observers are bemused by their new host. At a speedy 55 minutes, Exceptional Promise is a show that is designed for a fun night out that really only gets you until around dinner time.
Photo: Courtesy of Bush Theatre
Exceptional Promise is at Bush Theatre from 12th until 22nd June 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Exceptional Promise here: