Courtney Rose Brown
The show is wordy and political, one that you really have to pay attention to. Beginning with the house lights up alongside the stage lights, it feels similar to a uni lecture. This ties in well with the set design (John Verryt), a white board, a cork board and a table holding the manifesto - which quickly becomes a crazed map of Anders’ movements. Olaf’s (Edwin Wright) tone is nonchalant as he begins his research, with the occasional quiver of excitement. When he reaches his tape collection of recordings of Anders, Olaf takes on more of Anders’ character. The first time he puts on the Norwegian accent, chills flood my entire body. I grow afraid of what we will see.
The lights tighten their focus on Wright as Anders, the house lights dim, a clear signifier to differentiate between Olaf’s world and Anders’. Throughout, there are spotlights on the information at hand: the white board, cork board and table are always lit. In a powerful moment near the end, Ruby Reihana-Wilson’s lighting design presents a tight focus around Wright’s face, lit with an ominous shade of a diluted red. It provides a clear impression of blood and power.
Olaf strips off his clothes, a tie to himself, and tosses them aside as he discovers more about Anders. I struggle to differentiate when Olaf is himself and when he is Anders. It feels like the two merge together as Olaf alienates himself, like Anders, takes the same drugs and the same lifestyle. It is an unsettling performance, tension breaks with the occasional outburst of surprised giggling.
Olaf notably says, ‘the media has a right to do what they like immediately, but the arts has to have a conscience’ (hugely paraphrasing, but the gist.) This is fascinating as I found that a staged exploration of Anders too intimate. Manifesto 2083 paints him as a human rather than a monster and it is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to see his humanity and find yourself laughing at some of the things he says and to engage with ideals that I don’t believe in but to understand the thinking behind it.