Shivani Thussu @ Monkey Barrel

A focus group that isn't everyone's worst nightmare, Shivani Thussu brings an effortless chemistry to Prefer Not to Say

Review by James Gladdis | 09 Aug 2019
  • Shivani Thussu @ Monkey Barrel

It’d be accurate to say that most of us – at least those of us who read too much news – are probably concerned for our privacy. Specifically our digital privacy, and what in the name of Christ people like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg could possibly do next to further enforce their image as supervillains in the public eye. This certainly seems to be a very real concern for Shivani Thussu as she takes you through everyone’s collective concept of personal hell: a workplace team-building exercise.

Thussu’s character work is second-to-none. Throughout the hour she perfectly captures each employee you’d ever imagine to work in big-tech: the ‘guru’ founder, the dedicated employee who loves everything about her job (honest!), the guy who lucked into the job and is in way over his head, and the token celebrity who swears they really believe in the company’s vision in an attempt to make you forget that they’re no doubt receiving a staggering amount of money.

Through crowd work and effortless chemistry with her audience, Thussu really brings the show to life. Her deft use of metaphors which helps wonderfully illustrate the logical extreme that these tech giants will eventually grow towards.

However, one thing that doesn’t quite land comes near the show’s end, as Thussu (literally) spells out the underlying message and theme of the show. It's disappointing, because it comes prefaced by almost an hour of subtle material that suggests Thussu has complete faith in her audience and their ability to figure out the point for themselves, and this slip up runs the risk of sacrificing that.

Shivani Thussu: Prefer Not to SayMonkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 2), until 25 Aug (not 13), 1.20pm, £6/PWYW