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Review: BORDERS ألسياج הגדר, VAULT Festival

Review: BORDERS ألسياج הגדר, VAULT Festival

An inspired and inspiring debut play.

Review: BORDERS ألسياج הגדר, VAULT Festival

Boaz and George start chatting on Grinder on the two sides of the border between Israel and Lebanon. A screen, different cultural backgrounds, and fiery geopolitics separate them from one another but unite them against a common bigoted enemy. As they find solace in their secret romance and distraction grows into commitment, the real conflict between their countries flares up anew.

Their plans of meeting up are suddenly shattered and communication becomes tense. Influenced by writer Nimrod Danishman's own experience, Borders ألسياج הגדר is an inspired and inspiring piece of theatre. It's an impressive debut play that has already garnered acclaim internationally.

Neta Gracewell directs the script into a fully formed and concise production with a clear-cut vision. Yaniv Yafe and Tarik Badwan face the audience, talking ahead to an invisible interlocutor, only moving to change the scene, unable to see each other, an abyssal 20-ish kilometre distance dividing them. As their connection solidifies, so does the acrimony between their countries and the fence that once had a man-size hole is replaced and armed.

Designed by Ethan Cheek, a line of cement blocks of varied heights acts as a divider for their stillness. They perch and climb and move them, but remained separated by them. Their chemistry is astonishing, defying this visual limitation and reduced mobility of the concept. They look into the other's eyes once in the whole piece and only towards the end, but Danishman's text builds a rock-solid foundation that carries them through.

While rather adorable as their fondness grows, they struggle to connect on a sociological level. Boaz doesn't understand how George can still be in the closet; George struggles to compromise Boaz's ideology with his ultimate actions. Badwan is delicate and tentative in George's conscientious approach, acting like a calming energy against Yafe's more impulsive and open Boaz. They cultivate their character's hesitation meticulously, mixing it with the eagerness of lust and the sheer joy of finding someone to click with.

Adi Drori's translation of Danishman's writing is lyrical and curated, but rarely unnatural. His attention to detail shows in the transposition of their online chats, which are as realistically clipped as they are thoughtful and deep. The sardonic exchanges start out lighthearted to conceal the fear of being burnt again, but Boaz goes straight to the point, scarred by a previous relationship and not looking for anything but momentary satisfaction. George breaks his speed. The first concedes, and his initial curiosity steadily becomes a substantial emotion as their conversations reach more personal depths.

Their political stance seeps through backhanded comments and carefree observations until their safety is in jeopardy. Danishman succeeds in highlighting the complex relationship between identity and the necessity of a certain political affiliation. It's not a cheerful show, but it certainly is a rewarding one.

Borders ألسياج הגדר runs at VAULT Festival until 12 February.

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From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

... (read more about this author)

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