Confirmation (Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Turbine Studio
February 18 – 20
“Confirmation” is a show of questions more than answers. What lies at the heart of conviction? Is it fact or a burning belief that isn’t explainable? The result, more Ted talk than theatrical entertainment is a fast-moving, but lengthy one-man show exploration of the phenomenon of confirmation bias – our choice (whether consciously or subconsciously) to look beyond the facts and see only the evidence that proves the beliefs we already hold, especially when it comes to major social and political issues.
Early in the show, Chris Thorpe, engages the audience is a psychological experiment involving three numbers before explaining bias’ existence from a shared understanding. With Donald Rumsfeld’s quote about unknown unknowns shared as warning of the danger of confirmation bias, there is no denying the show’s interesting premise. However, this is also its undoing as its weighty subject matter makes engagement difficult to maintain long-term.
Self-proclaimed privileged white liberal Chris Thorpe is a welcoming, energetic performer, moving about with an infectious conviction unrestricted by the intimacy of both the Turbine Studio space and the stage setup with audience members seated on all four sides. As both himself and Glen, a self-professed proud Nazi and holocaust denier, he is almost aggressively passionate. When he holds up index cards before front-row audience members and asks them to read questions he asked Glen, which he answers from a seat in front of them while staring into their eyes, things become a little uncomfortable, as is often that case with work rooted in reality, and one wishes with a time-out for contemplation of the work’s avalanche of notions.
Dense in concept and language, “Confirmation” is an experimental performance of the type suited to festivals such as WTF. Although militant nationalisation and demonisation of the white working class, as presented in the work, are perhaps more of a British concern, its use of real-life dialogues and imagined struggles of political extremism and social liberalism, makes “Confirmation” an interesting intellectual exercise of metacognition that will both blow your mind in realisation of observations such as the inability to taste one’s own tongue.