In the interactive show Losers, the audience have the dubious honour of deciding which of four fame-hungry contestants is the most memorable – and therefore the most likely to become famous. Two men and two women, heavily influenced by Joey Essex and Jade Goody, have quit university and auditioned for every reality show out there. But they've yet to make it onto any of them. So, inspired by Dragon’s Den, they have bought two video cameras and are filming their own show, to show off their unique suitability for fame.
As we enter the theatre, each audience member is given a small voting pad, to be used in each of the following rounds to decide the winners and the losers. It's a fun interaction that connects the audience more fully to the show – and we are told to act like ourselves "but on crack", so that the cameras can pick up our enthusiasm.
These requirements, and the forced participation, neatly highlight the fact that modern-day fame is utterly dependent on the whims of a mercurial and oftentimes cruel audience – who can be far more deplorable than the participants seeking fame. For instance, the show I attended featured a dance-off between three of the four contestants; there were more audience votes for the person not included than for one of those who danced (and he didn’t even dance poorly).
The first few rounds are fairly generic and harmless – who is the most talented, who is the most genuine, and so on. But there is a cost for losing: the contestant with the least votes has to go through a forfeit or punishment. As the rounds progress these become incrementally more and more disturbing, as the desperation level increases and the bright and brittle façade of friendship begins to break down. The penalties for coming last begin to escalate from the mild to the extreme and troubling.
All told, Losers is both a fun and a disturbing show. It starts off as light-hearted entertainment, but as the desperation for fame increases, it grows far more intense and much darker.