a blazingly, almost unforgivingly political play

— REVIEW of ‘The Economist’ | Broadway Baby

The Economist | Review

Ed Frankl | Broadway Baby
8 Aug, 2012

✭✭ | Four Stars

Any piece of theatre that deals with tragic recent history is likely to divide audiences, and this challenging play that gives a version of the events that led to the massacre by Anders Breivik in Norway is hardly different. Australian troupe MKA take to task the principle that Breivik was a ‘psycho’ or a ‘lone wolf,’ instead suggesting he was part of a wider political tapestry, in the recesses of the political right that for too long has gone unaddressed. It produces kind of uncompromising theatre that makes the Fringe so special.

The young cast here create a sizzling, disquieting atmosphere throughout; as we entered, they sing songs of an idyllic Norway’s, but soon we’ll watch scenes of searing violence as Breivik, here fictionalised as Andrew Berwick, proclaims “something is going to happen”. Zoey Dawson plays Berwick with a dynamic intensity, shunned from society and forced into an ultimately devastating isolation. The talented ensemble of six use a variety of theatrical innovations to produce an vibrant and somewhat refreshing show, with a concoction of physical theatre, live music, and an array of characters that stretch from prostitutes and drug dealers to Berwick’s vision of a nationalistic Norse god Odin.

But despite the fact that playwright Tobias Manderson-Galvin and director Van Badham have created a blazingly, almost unforgivingly political play, there’s enough ambiguity found in the central character that the play poses difficult questions. Berwick here may believe he is part of a wider political movement, but this is an adult who hasn’t grown up, who plays violent video games, is sexually diffident, and unquestionably is a loner. The terror may not be simply that there are people who subscribe to the extreme far-right ideology that Breivik believed, but that those who do may be so far removed from society that we don’t care that they’re there.

“a blazingly, almost unforgivingly political play”