Borders by Henry Naylor offers us a perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis that often goes untold. In the midst of a media which rarely shows us anything other than a one dimentional narrative of victimhood, this play reveals to us complex stories and people.
The show has a simple premise. It follows two characters in wildly different circumstances, their monologues alternating throughout the narrative until they collide in the most gripping and unexpected of ways at the end.
The juxtaposition of the two characters Naylor presents to us is crucial to the play’s impact. We are given two starkly different experiences of global conflict and its shattering consequences, one from a struggling photographer and the other from a young woman, Nameless, rebelling against Assad, who is eventually forced to flee her country. It is refreshing to see the story of before she became a refugee told, adding layers to her identity that are often denied of those in her position.
This character is portrayed by Avita Lvova, who gives an astounding performance that shows defiance and talent. Her acting, combined with Naylor’s powerful writing, manages to create a sense of action and violence that is as vivid as if it were being physically played out in front of you. Clever use of language means that details are left to our imagination, the resulting in something which is far more haunting than most graphic enactments of violence.
Grahan O’ Mara delivers a wildly different but equally brilliant performance as the cynical photo journalist Sebastian Nightingale, exposing us to ever growing corruption in the world of journalism and its distorted way of viewing crises. His monologues are full of dry wit, bringing a searing humour to the play.
This is an incredibly well thought out and researched show which stares stereotypes in the face before confronting them with alternate truths. Light is cast to the resistance and rebellion of such crises, as well as the struggle and pain it brings. The graffiti which Nameless creates becomes art as rebellion within a show that is art as education.
Borders is full of fire and grit. It uses the simplicity of its own structure to highlight the complex, nuanced stories which are often overshadowed by reductive assumptions and stereotypes.
Borders is playing at Gilded Balloon Teviot until August 28. For more information and tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/borders-by-henry-naylor