Review: James Graham’s Privacy at the Donmar Warehouse

Joshua Mcguire and (in the background) Jonathan Coy, Paul Chahidi, Gunnar Cauthery. Photo Johan Persson

Joshua Mcguire and (in the background) Jonathan Coy, Paul Chahidi, Gunnar Cauthery. Photo Johan Persson

Is it a play? Is it a comedy gig? Is it an interactive training session? Or maybe an existential thriller? Dazzling and confident, James Graham’s new play Privacy could very well sit under any of these banners but before you have time to consider a label, it has already moved on. Multitasking underlines most of modern life, why not the theatre? All in one, the tour is fast and furious: data, journalism, Mousetrap, Shakespeare, squeaky dolphin, NSA, Google earth, Tesco club cards, and that’s only scratching the surface. (By the corporate name-dropping, it’s evident the Donmar lawyers had to work overtime on this. So much so, they got to be in the play).

Which is not to say Privacy lacks substance. It all ties to a coherent – if unconventional – narrative where the writer is the protagonist, as much of the story as of his own existential and creative crisis. Continue reading

Review: In the Republic of Happiness, by Martin Crimp, at the Royal Court Theatre

republicofhappinessSeveral unexpected questions occurred to me during the performance of In The Republic of Happiness: At what level of collective boredom am I allowed to get my phone out and start surfing? How close to the edge of a row do you have to be to leave in the middle of a performance? Do the actors feel as trapped as I do?

Martin Crimp’s In The Republic of Happiness is an unusual play. Ian used the word “daring”. Is that enough? A rant of low level misanthropy and verbal violence, some of it set to songs, it could have been interesting if it wasn’t so stubbornly unprocessed – and ultimately unprocessable. Individual sentences possess elegance and beauty. Collectively, they make less sense – and have less poise – than a man ranting on a street corner. Continue reading