dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Chris Thorpe asks some uncomfortable questions
This one man show aims to put us all in the hot seat by examining attitude, beliefs and world views.
Written and performed by Chris Thorpe, Confirmation takes as its central point the idea of confirmation bias – the tendency to stress factors which confirm our own beliefs and ignore those that don't.
In looking at this phenomenon Chris also examines racism and how people with racist views will see their views confirmed in the world around them.
Chris Thorpe in Confirmation
If that all sounds a bit serious, then much of this is. Thorpe pushes boundaries with uncomfortable statements which make us all question our own world views. There are a few moments of humour but beyond that it is pretty unrelenting.
Much of the action features a dialogue between the Chris character and a white supremacist known as Glen and the exchange of their views.
Thorpe takes on both characters and frequently engages the audience in questions and involves them in the show. With the production taking place in The Door at Birmingham Rep and with the audience seated in just two rows around the space, there is nowhere to hide and we are pulled into the dialogue, like it or not.
Developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the show raises lots of interesting questions about language, interaction, racism, acceptance and, of course, confirmation bias.
But once those questions have been asked, Thorpe and Chavkin don't quite seem to know where to go with the answers. We quickly establish Glen's stance and from that moment on much of the dialogue feels like repetition. There's also a sense that the production under-estimates its audience by hammering home points even when they will already have been grasped.
Indeed at eighty minutes, Confirmation feels over-long and would have benefited from a tighter script. Reducing some of the detail in the dialogue would have concentrated the messages and sharpened the action.
Thorpe gives a spirited and enthusiastic performance, never letting the pace slacken and inputting energy into the role. He's clearly passionate about the production and the ideas being explored.
Presented by Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate, Confirmation certainly offers a talking point but with a bit of editing it could have been a much more powerful production.