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Privacy

Published April 23, 2014

What’s it all about?

Sssh. I can’t tell you. It’s private… except with social media, club cards, smart phones and questionable governmental monitoring little really is any more, which is what Privacy is about.

Who’s in it?

Rising star Joshua McGuire plays ‘The Writer’, whose journey we follow as he’s tasked with joining the internet age to research a play about privacy. From deep-seated cynicism and fear to inquisitiveness and joy, McGuire, who puts one a little in the mind of Andrew Scott, provides a relatable everyman-ish central point to a drama filled with quick-fire character changes.

Olivier Award winner Michelle Terry plays The Writer’s driving force, giving the Director a domineering, brusque, controlling edge.

The rest of the cast – Gunnar Cauthery, Paul Chahidi, Jonathan Coy and Nina Sosanya – play an eclectic roll call of experts interviewed by playwright James Graham, from Guardian Editor-In-Chief Alan Rusbridger to Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti.

Graham has worked the clever trick of bringing all their testimony seamlessly into a narrative about his own journey. At least, we presume it’s his journey. We’ll never know how close the characters of Writer and Director are to their real life counterparts.

What should I look out for?

The cast trying to hold it together during moments of audience interaction. Privacy is the first show I’ve seen that encourages audiences to play with their smart phones. Such normally taboo behaviour is positively encouraged.

Also many a moment that will have you questioning every online choice you make – and a lot of offline ones too – and who else knows about it. Even though we’ve all heard about Edward Snowden’s leaks, having the extent of our observation laid bare is still breathtakingly chilling.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Many of the characters seen on stage from Guardian employees Rusbridger and Jemima Kiss to Chakrabarti and MP David Davis. This made it almost as much fun to watch the audience react to seeing themselves portrayed as it was to watch the play. Almost.

In a nutshell?

Privacy is so important, engaging and entertaining you should tell all your friends to see it, just not via social media… or phone… or email…

Will I like it?

If you already have paranoid tendencies, probably not. If you’re paranoia free, this is vital theatre. It’s a show that takes a barrage of information that could drown audiences and frames it as one man’s personal story. It asks us to question our own privacy while, possibly, exposing the hearts and fears of its creative duo. It engages immediately with modern life rather than reflecting it. It’s funny and playful and petrifying and tension-packed, informative without lecturing, life-changing with a lightness of touch. But you’ll never look at your phone in the same way again.

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