Monday, 1 August 2016

PRIVACY at the Public

     At the end of James Graham and Josie Rourke's delightful, if a bit overlong, interactive show, PRIVACY, at the Public, Daniel Radcliffe order the audience not to reveal what happens during the show. I'll try to obey their edict.
     PRIVACY is a docudrama, part fiction, but greatly fact, in which a group of actors play multiple real people. The script is full of quotes from experts on privacy in the internet age. It's the kind of play one finds in major London fringe theatres like the Tricycle. This production came from London's Donmar Warehouse, best known for starry revivals, but Josie Rourke, the Donmar's current artistic director, the co-author and director of PRIVACY, honed her skills on the London fringe (she was artistic director of the Bush Theatre). Docudrama isn't as common in the U.S. as it is in London, though we have had classics like THE LARAMIE PROJECT and the solo work of Anna DeVeare Smith.
     In PRIVACY, a writer (Daniel Radcliffe) is in a personal crisis after a breakup. His ex-boyfriend accused him of being too guarded, too remote. Is he capable of opening up? The question PRIVACY poses is how to open up, to be oneself, in the internet age? It also asks whether we surrender too much information to our phones and computers.
     The originality of this show is in its engagement with the audience. It's very much an audience participation show, particularly through our cellphones which we are encouraged to keep on throughout.
     That's all I can tell you, except that Daniel Radcliffe is his usual charming self onstage and that he is surrounded by an excellent ensemble including Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live fame. The show is fun, challenging, frightening at times. It does overstay its welcome a bit. An intermissionless 90 minutes would have been enough.
PRIVACY. Public Theatre. July 31, 2016.  

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