My experience of Border Tales was an indescribable one. How do you write a review on something that left you speechless?
As part of the Royal Greenwich Festival, Border Tales deals with issues of immigration and the problems this multicultural generation faces, as well as the England-based experiences of immigrants (or children of) through the medium of dance, music and speech.
I freely admit I cannot dance, but my appreciation for those who can is vast. This was probably clear as I made my way down the aisle when I almost stepped on the floorlight, causing the stewards to almost have a heart attack. Not the best way to start a performance, but I’m clumsy at the best of times.
You could have knocked me down with a feather after the performance. The entire show presents organised chaos with style and grace that only dancers can achieve. Protein dance company implement a style that DV8 use where they incorporate talking whilst dancing, and it is nice to see that influence in there. I don’t know if it is DV8 that started this trope, but it is so effective for an audience and I’m glad it is a method they use. A moment that took my breath away is when Stephen Moynihan and Eryck Brahmania perform a lift in which Moynihan throws himself over Brahmania with complete trust that he would catch him – the weightlessness to their steps almost defies gravity.
Andrew Gardiner plays the hilarious bigoted English ‘lad’. He starts out as a figure of fun but develops into something more engaging; his interaction with the audience is easy and effortless. Salal El Brogy, opening the show, is so in control of his movement: his upper and lower body strength are almost superhuman. Something new is happening at every moment, and it is genuine and authentic.
I can’t say there is a stand-out performance because they are all amazing. There is no weak link in the cast – I kept trying to find one, but there literally isn’t. To be honest I am surprised that something like this garners only a that size of audience: it is West End calibre, and I was disappointed they only received the amount of applause that they did.
I also feel that when you go to musicals, you find the dancing is always on point but the acting’s very over-the-top. With this, the acting is real: it is fresh to see good acting and dancing in the same place, and the singing is sensational too. Is there anything this cast can’t do?
The live music, spearheaded by Anthar Kharana, is highly impressive; I didn’t realise it was happening until I caught a glimpse of a man furiously hammering away at the drums. The fact that he’s self-taught also deserves applause.
I’m so glad I went to see this show. I actually got chills – phenomenal.
Border Tales played at Greenwich Dance until 23 May. For more information and tickets, see the Greenwich Dance website. Photo by Chris Nash.