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There are several successful plays which are redefining the conventional frontiers of accepted theatre. The Drowning Man and Venice Preserved do not take place in a conventional theatre but in different public locations, e.g. in the case of the latter the Cutty Sark.  In a different way, so is  Privacy  whose run at the Donmar Warehouse is sold out. It is written by James Graham, whose play This House was both a critical and commercial success. There are only two character roles in the conventional sense – the playwright and his psychiatrist. The rest of the cast assumes different persona, mainly actual. The theme of the play is that the amount of information about you stored on your mobile is scary. For example, did you know that under the ‘privacy’ setting your regular locations are stored? It is of such concern that some will not have a meeting with their mobiles on. It’s also highly troubling that for £10 you can buy a piece of eavesdropping invasive software. After the performance I met a friend of mine who counsels for Samaritans. GCHQ know where  we met. She specialises in cyber-bullying and at a course learned how easy it is to eavesdrop on emails.

It’s an unusual play that begins, not by asking you to switch your mobile off, but to keep it on and take a selfie. These are projected onto a screen and a degree of information revealed. The playwright identifies someone from the audience and shows how much he knows about her.

Call me a traditionalist but, however troubling the message, I prefer a more dramatic context with dialogue, characters and plot development. I was bewildered by the whirligig of characters And not always overwhelmed by the Guardian  moralising.  The excellent  actor Jonathan Coy played indeed  a Guardian journalist, QC, inventor of the club card, a German American alone. I went to a matinee and almost all the audience were from school. This is the mobile generation and they loved it so, a bit like 20/20, the purists may not like it but it could be an interesting introduction to theatre. Or it could be passing phase, or it could be re-defnition of what the theatre represents.

About Tim Holford-Smith

Despite running his architectural practice full-time, Tim is a frequent theatre-goer and occasional am-dram producer. More Posts