The Economist: Anders Breivik uncovered

Norse surrender: Australian company take on the Anders Breivik story inThe Economist

A verdict from the Norwegian courts on whether Anders Breivik, the man responsible for the Utøya island massacre, is expected on August 24.

If they find him insane, they can detain him indefinitely. If they find he is simply a mass murderer, the maximum sentence is 24 years.

This raw, passionate and daring show from Australia about a man called Andrew Berwick, whose life story bears a striking resemblance to Breivik’s (he became the titular economist when the Norwegian armed forces turned him down), suggests there is not much room for doubt, despite the conflicting reports that the courts have received.

Tobias Manderson-Galvin’s script draws on everything from Breivik’s notorious 1500 page manifesto to his character on the computer game World of Warcraft to demonstrate the incremental steps that led him to the point where the Oslo bombing and subsequent shootings were simply the next logical step in his political development.  

And here’s the uncomfortable, but inescapable, crux of the play, which was a controversial sensation when it opened in Melbourne at the tail end of last year. If Breivik is not insane, then his far-right ideology, fuelled by ultra-Nationalist iconography and carefully selected historical oddities such as the Teutonic Knights, is symptomatic of a growing political reality in Europe which is already showing up in parliaments and local authorities.

Van Badham’s inventive ensemble production, on slender resources in the sort of dingy basement which only the Fringe could call a venue, opens with the sort of idealised tableau that David Lynch might have produced if he had been Norwegian.

And just in case there are any lingering gender stereotypes, she has a young but suitably blionde woman play Berwick. But the rest of it is a pointed accretion of detail, at first fascinating and then increasingly chilling and disturbing.

The Economist, C Nova until Aug 27 0845 260 1234

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