Edinburgh Fringe 2014
At one point in his new, Fringe First-winning performance Confirmation, Chris Thorpe pretty much lays it out for you: “I’m charming, and intelligent, and fun to talk to.”
During the course of the mesmerising 80-minute show, which examines confirmation bias in the human psyche as seen through the eyes of the neo-Nazi movement, Thorpe uses his enigmatic presence to prove that he is, indeed, someone worth listening to.
Confirmation follows Thorpe’s journey to understand how confirmation bias, or selectively interpreting information in order to affirm our current worldview, works in even the most extreme mindsets. He seeks out a white supremacist, Glen, and shares the findings of their dialogue with the audience, taking detours to talk about related phenomena like Holocaust denial and Anders Breivik’s 2011 mass shooting. The result is a collaboration between Thorpe and the TEAM’s Rachel Chavkin, who directed the show.
The monologue packs several punches, at once boldly thought-provoking and deeply emotional. Much of this is due to Thorpe’s impeccable presentation – his shifts between characters and anecdotes were clear with simple theatrical moves. But even just by moving his microphone or shifting his chair, Thorpe is captivating, engaging the audience directly into the text in order to keep the show moving.
A particularly brilliant moment occurs when Thorpe asks Glen his biggest regret. Glen’s reply, a particularly humanistic one, is that he regrets that his wife died so young and that he didn’t use every possible chance to tell her that he loves her. By the end of the performance, I found myself buzzing with ideas and unsure who I sympathised with.
Thorpe is similarly unsure, and includes miles of vulnerability as he explains his evolving thoughts on his firmly liberal views. Leaving the audience with more questions than answers, Thorpe chooses to end the performance with an abrupt jolt.
Confirmation is truly a must-see piece of new writing in Edinburgh. If you’re looking for a show that features a stunning performer and food for thought, it’s just the ticket.