Confirmation: inside the mind of a white supremacist

Christian Butler

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Confirmation, a one-man show at King’s Hall, is named after confirmation bias: a psychological conceit that suggests that people only accept information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, particularly with regards to emotionally charged issues. Performer Chris Thorpe chooses to explore this concept by investigating the psyche of a person whose beliefs are most opposite to his – a white supremacist.

Thorpe politely welcomes the audience as they find their seats before the show. The stage is set in the round with just a chair and a microphone in the centre. Wearing casual clothing, Thorpe paces around and speaks softly. Just as the audience gets comfortable, the house lights dim and Thorpe pauses in front of the microphone for a moment before exploding into a fervent description of preparing for an anti-immigrant demonstration.

Never letting up in intensity for its 80 minute duration, Confirmation is both an intellectual exercise and a visceral, emotional experience. Identifying himself as a ‘white liberal’, Thorpe throws himself into trying to understand his real-life subject: a locally conscious, disabled-rights activist and widower he pseudonymously names Glen – who also happens to be a self-declared Nazi. During the performance, Thorpe becomes Glen, explaining the falsity of the holocaust and the positive attributes of Anders Breivik. To further push the taboos Glen talks about, members of the audience are invited to read some of Glen’s dialogue.

It’s an electrifying performance. Thorpe gives the impression of a man who has thrown himself into the abyss and returned with a frightening story to tell. Confirmation will leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted – yet somehow begging for more.

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

Confirmation is at Northern Stage at King’s Hall until 23 August.

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