Writer and Performer: Chris Thorpe
Director: Rachel Chavkin
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Our beliefs are what shape us, but what if those beliefs are at odds with mainstream society? We may try and look at the views of others but can we really put ourselves in others’ shoes if we find their beliefs abhorrent?
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it’s a brave performer who sets out to confront racism, extremism and terrorism but Chris Thorpe tackles the topic with an engaging intensity.
Staged in the round, with Thorpe already chatting to the audience pre-show, this one-man-show not just removes the fourth wall but destroys it. We’re drawn into the conversations, Thorpe leaving no place to hide –it’s both unsettling and captivating at the same time.
The subject matter itself isn’t easy; Thorpe takes us on a journey into conversations he held with a white supremacist ‘Glen’ – not his real name but a real character, currently working in politics. Initially suspecting he’d take a vehement dislike to the man he finds the boundaries blurred as he discovers an overlap of views. It’s an overlap Thorpe exploits in his delivery, we’re never 100% sure if it is ‘Glen’ or Thorpe speaking. The similarities run from the mundane (how they take their tea) to a surprising overlap on political views. It is, though, when the voices diverge that the piece takes a much darker turn.
As Thorpe sits face to face with a member of the audience, he gives chillingly thought out responses to questions about his belief. From the IRA to confirming the Oslo massacres of Anders Breivik, the warped logic is both uncomfortable to listen to yet worryingly convincing. We may find the views expressed at odds with our own, but the logic is clear.
This blurring of lines become more frenetic as we move to Holocaust denial and a confrontation between Thorpe and his interviewee subject but, despite it being clear there is no condoning of the views expressed. there’s also a view that not everything is as clear-cut as we thought.
It’s an ambitious piece and some sections work better than others. The balance between Thorpe and ‘Glen’ is masterfully handled, though early sections on Confirmation Bias and the racial interpretations of Minor Threat’s songGuilty of Being Whiteseem somewhat laboured.
This is one of those shows where world events add an extra layer of poignancy but, even without this week’s tragic events, Confirmation remains a powerful and unsettling evening of theatre. It may be challenging to watch, it may tackle unsettling subjects and doesn’t provide easy answers. It does encourage debate, though, and in these unsettled times that can only be welcome
Touring until February 2016 | Image: Contributed