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The Theatreguide.London Review

Exceptional Promise
Bush Theatre   Summer 2019

The partially improvised mock game-show Exceptional Promise playfully engages with the nightmare hurdles of the housing crisis by pitting three people against each other to win the prize of a home.

The host is always different and on the evening I attended a good deal of the laughter was generated by the dry humour of Kemeh Bob getting to grips with that role.

However the contestants are each night the show's creators Salome Wagaine (Sal), Bisola Elizabeth Alabi (Lizzie) and Emily Aboud (Em), who each tell us something of their current dilemma.

Lizzie is stuck in a hostel infested with insects, Em has had to put up with a leaking toilet in a shared flat for a year and Sal is plagued by slugs sliding through the rooms.

But these stories are short inserts. Almost all the questions and games could appear in any television or radio game show. They are asked such things as the amount of money referred to as 'a pony' and who killed the Minotaur. They bounce table tennis balls on a racket while competing to give the names of cheeses.

All of this may count as party fun but carries us away from the theme of housing and the barely touched theme of flaws in the UK visa system from which the show gets its title.

Occasionally they refer to their need for homes, with Em claiming that right as a hard worker and Sal asking to be set free of the mice that haunt her. But these small relevant snippets are undeveloped and easily lost in the laughter from the next joke.

And yet there is so much that could have been explored, from the cramped expensive living conditions that sometimes force housemates to share a bed, to the current fad for demolishing well made council homes to make way for the investment opportunities of overpriced studio flats that can launder the money stolen from poor people living in a country far away.

What a shame this party game should dip its satiric toe so slightly into the absurd horror of the show's official subject.

Keith McKenna

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Review - Exceptional Promise - Bush Theatre 2019

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