confirmation with Vhrist ThorpeConfirmation

Birmingham Rep Door

*****

‘EVERYBODY thinks they’re right.’ This bold statement from writer and performer Chris Thorpe is the basis for his performance, Confirmation.

It is a show like no other; passionate, innovative and purely based on the thoughts and beliefs of others.

Through the facts and opinions that Thorpe has gathered, he creates a piece highlighting extremism and his own personal response to the division of individual thoughts.

The performance feels like a dramatised lecture for the most part. Thorpe is extremely knowledgeable and every line uttered is laced with a wealth of information. He has a need to understand the views of people, or groups of people, who hold political and social views which are the polar opposite to his own. In his energetic and rhythmic show, we see his journey of how he came to know to know Glen, an extremist.

Within Confirmation, Thorpe works alongside Rachel Chavkin with whom he developed the show and she is also the director. Together they create a challenging and wonderfully thought-provoking piece that display to the audience what happens when a conversation is had between two people with contrasting political views.

The space is intimate and tightly atmospheric. Thorpe bares all of his thoughts, feelings and research and makes sure that no piece of information is left unsaid. In the explosive performance Thorpe takes command for a complete hour and a half, we are handed a mirror to see the reflection of the effects of the manipulation of the mind, thus understanding Confirmation Bias.

Thorpe talks to us as himself for most of the production, presenting to us in a poetic manner his extensive and indeed impressive research into Confirmation Bias. His personal accounts and findings give a unique personal quality to a project heavily reliant on research.

Chavkin’s inspired direction sets out the differentiation between the two opposing views referred to by Thorpe.

When Thorpe plays himself, he makes sure that he keeps an informal approach and talks to us as if we were in perhaps a seminar or lecture. He also takes on the role of Glen, a real person with a different name. Thorpe has a fantastic skill of characterisation and so we understand instantly when he switches from part to part.

 

As Thorpe clearly and interestingly explains in the performance, confirmation bias is when we automatically look for evidence that confirms our own preconceived notions. Thorpe does not shy away from the fact that this was the stance he took when talking to political extremists, looking for reasons and glimpses of evidence to support that they are ‘bad people’.

What makes Thorpe’s and Chavkin’s project so entirely gripping is that Thorpe goes on a journey. Together they have made a story and have not just presented their findings from conversations with extremists. Thorpe captures the audience, constantly making us just as part of the process as he is performing. We sit around the studio in a round formation, allowing Thorpe to be in the centre of the small, totally engaged onlookers. There is a fantastic sequence where we read out Thorpe’s questions to Glen and Thorpe answers back, staring at nobody other than the person who dared to ask the question.

This is a wonderfully fashioned piece of research that has built a bridge between science and art, proving that the theatre is a place for everyone and everybody’s thoughts and views.

It is a piece that carries us with a passionate mastery for words with its poetic and punchy script. To see Thorpe at work is a good enough reason to go alone.

With a passion for his findings and a complete need to tell audiences what he now understands brings out a rawness and depth to admire within his performance. He has a particular talent for maintaining a hold on the audience throughout the entirety of the performance and his ways of characterising what he has seen through his own eyes is truly innovative. To 05-12-15

Elizbeth Halpin

01-12-15 

Contents page Rep Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre