Pros: Fast, varied and interesting presentation.
Cons: At times I felt lectured and uncomfortable. It was heavy going and about 15 minutes too long.
When a production is described as ‘alternative’ you are never quite sure what you are going to experience. Confirmation at the Battersea Arts Centre is written and performed by Chris Thorpe and co-devised and directed by Rachel Chavkin. It was, indeed, an experience.
During Confirmation the audience are challenged to examine how and why we form beliefs. It looks at the rise of right wing extremism in politics and asks whether it has any basis. It questions whether there can ever be an objective discussion with an extremist. If there can, then how do we process not only their views but our attitude towards that person.
Confirmation took many months to put together. Thorpe and Chavkin started by researching right wing political groups but wanted to take the piece further and give it more depth and personal insight. Thorpe then met a self confessed National Socialist ‘Glen’. After months of in depth online conversations and a meeting at his home, Thorpe now presents an comprehensive challenge to our everyday thinking.
Chris Thorpe took to the stage and put together a solid and well researched presentation. He repeatedly changed his method of communication; sometimes using the microphone, sometimes he spoke to the audience as a whole, sometimes to individuals. He even threw a song in at one point.
He flitted between explaining his own views, dramatising others’ views and re-enacting his conversations – both real and imaginary – with Glen. He engaged closely with the audience, challenging us to understand why we think the way we do about racism, prejudice and extremism.
He questions if we are actually open-minded and sympathetic to others. Are we able to truly look at the world from another’s eyes or are we, in fact set in our comfortable ways and just as biased?
I found watching Confirmation an exhausting experience. At the beginning the opinions and characters were obviously opposing and their arguments concise. By the end of the eighty minutes however the difference wasn’t so clear; the characters blended and I wasn’t sure what to believe anymore. Combining this with areas of dense philosophy that I sometimes found confusing, I began to feel uncomfortable and wondered whether it was just all too serious for me. Was that tiredness? No, just extremely clever writing.
Confirmation is playing at the Battersea Arts Centre until 25 October 2014. It was my first visit to this venue. It is easy walking distance from Clapham Junction and an absolute delight! A beautiful building and exciting programme, I look forward to further visits.
Author: Chris Thorpe.
Co-developer and Director: Rachel Chavkin
Presented by: Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate
Booking Until: 25 October 2014
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk/