What is privacy in an age where we advertise our lives online to anyone and sundry? You might think that this does not concern you. After all, you’re no terrorist and (like my companion) you might not even have a Facebook account. But, if privacy means that you are not observed or disturbed by other people, then you would be very wrong indeed.
The protagonist at the centre of James Graham’s new play is the writer himself. The play details the fictional (or not) journey the playwright took in writing Privacy and while it is not a documentary, it is also not quite fiction either. It reminded me of the very enjoyable New York Public Radio show called Radio Lab. Graham has cleverly structured the play to mirror the ideas that are central to his explorations of what exactly we understand about our own privacy in today’s world. Do you know what information you give away unwittingly to various government surveillance programmes and corporations? And how would you feel if all the information you left behind was made public- right here, right now.
Throughout the evening, Graham breaks down the fourth wall in a completely new way and attempts to shake us out of our lethargy. To make his case, he brings on many famous and less well-known people from William Hague and Edward Snowden to various behavioural scientists and Clive Humby, the investor of Tesco’s Clubcard, the first data gathering tool invented to know things about you. Without veering into the political, he tells it like it is and let’s you decide what to make of all this.
I’m not going to say anymore about the plot for reasons that will become only too clear to those who are lucky enough to have tickets for this fantastic and provocative piece of theatre. Joshua McGuire is excellent as the slightly naïve and troubled playwright, Gunnar Cauthery, Paul Chahidi, Jonathan Coy, Nina Sosanya and Michele Terry are all extremely versatile and convincing in their many respective roles. The very ingenious set is designed by Lucy Osborne and the whole is directed with precision by Josie Rourke. Go and find out what information you have divulged today…