Its brilliance is manifest

'Manifest 2083’ is neither expensively produced entertainment nor your standard Danish theatre play. ‘Manifest 2083’ is theatre at its best: stripped-back, honest and unapologetic.

Within an hour and a half we discover why it is called ‘Manifest 2083’, what was the extent of Anders Breivik’s gaming and weightlifting obsession, and how he craves media attention for both his own ego and his simplistic right-wing cause. However, these details pale against the true nature of the work that, through an intensely personal approach, brilliantly reflects the audience’s own feelings about the 2011 Norway attacks that claimed 77 lives.

The opening minutes are in the ‘au natural’ manner of a lecture demonstration. This lures us into a docile learning mode and into the hands of performer and director. Solo on stage, Olaf Højgaard flits commandingly between styles and approaches, always appropriate to the text and never overplaying the expression. At times he dares to be simply present with the audience − a rare feat in today’s Danish theatre, which is so often desperate to entertain.

Christian Lollike is an irritatingly good playwright and shows maturity more often associated with an older writer. He depicts a self-preening Breivik and the media’s often tasteless coverage of the man, holding a mirror to every one of us. The success of this mirror exists in the air of tension that permeates throughout the audience from beginning to end.

When the project was first announced, it was met with a deluge of indignation and claims of profiteering. The underlying message within this critique was that artists should not approach serious issues. This work reminds us that it is perhaps the artist who can best respond to crisis and further reminds us to not get lost in the discussions about multiculturalism and Islamic fundamentalism, but to remember those who lost their lives to a coward.

Manifest 2083 can be seen in Copenhagen at CaféTeatret (www.cafeteatret) until November 14. It should be noted that the Danish is accessible to the non-Dane as long as she or he is past the ‘Jeg hedder John, jeg er en kemiker’ stage.

Manifest 2083