Review: I Want You To Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t, VAULT Festival

A gameshow gone hilariously, tragically wrong – I Want You To Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t is full of promise at the VAULT Festival

“Which is better or worse…?”

David Attenborough or Michelle Obama? Magic or science? Going along with the majority or sticking to your own guns? The interactive element of I Want You To Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t requires some fun decision-making but also offers up something interesting about the psychology of audiences when confronted with even the most harmless of choices.

Dirty Rascals’ I Want You To… takes the form of your archetypal TV game show from an era gone by, as three contestants compete for the accolade of Most Admirable Person. But the contest proves far from benign as the desire to win corrodes into a desperation to be approved, laying bare the ultimate hollowness of seeking such approval from others. 

So it’s all fun and games until it isn’t, and Tom Macqueen’s TV host channels any number of mighty forbears – Jim Bowen’s geniality, Bruce Forsyth’s openness, Chris Tarrant’s empty sardonic tone… And as he’s a consistent presence as the tone slips and shifts, moving from awarding ‘moments of admiration’ to genuinely disturbing ‘moments of shame’.

There’s a push for something existential towards the end, elongated pauses between the rounds pushing the contestants to breaking point. It’s the section that it most fascinating but perversely it’s also the one that feels the weakest, as the show sort of slips away into the dark. That said, the final moment is fricking hilarious, and a real reminder of what the company is trying to – and does – achieve.  

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Photos: Jeremy Wong
I Want You To Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t is booking at the VAULT Festival until 17th February

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