Entertainment Hive 2020

Borders by Henry Naylor

Holden Street Theatres, until March 18

Review by Honey B

Third time is certainly a charm for award-winning playwright Henry Naylor as the final play in his Arabian Nightmares series, Borders, pushes the boundaries at Holden Street Theatres this Fringe season. Audiences have been challenged by his previous two Middle Eastern works, Echoes and Angel, and Borders is no different. In Borders we see the true power that art holds, be it the play that we are watching on-stage, the graffiti portrayed in war-torn Syria or the world’s media and its reaction to the ever-increasing violence in the region. The theatre piece is a moving account of the Syrian refugee crisis and it follows a young nameless Syrian girl (Avital Lvova) who is an artist turned activist who values her art and her freedom. Across the other side of the world young UK photographer Sebastian Nightingale (Graham O’Mara) is full of grand ideas about changing the world through his camera lens. While he starts with all of the zeal of a young man – his morals and principles are slowly eroded away. His mentor, veteran news reporter Johnny Messenger (also portrayed by O’Mara), sets Nightingale up for success after an interview with warlord Osama bin Laden – before the attack on the World Trade Centre. Nightingale becomes a minor celebrity thanks to a photo taken of the warlord and his career taking edgy pictures of celebs kicks off. Messenger remains true to his news craft. The headstrong Syrian girl also remains true to her cause and paints her original slogans across the city in the dead of night. Their worlds collide when the paparazzo takes an assignment with Messenger and the street artist is forced to flee the Assad regime. Lvova is mesmerising, fierce and uncompromising in her highly physical role. She fights against the system and evades bombs and capture. It’s an intense role and Lvova is once again up to the task – we saw her last year in Naylor’s Angel. O’Mara garners a few laughs as the photojournalist turned celebrity snapper, his integrity lost as he started to earn the big bucks and find success. It’s O’Mara’s other character, Messenger, who delivers the message that we are quickly losing our hard news journalists and the world is a poorer place for it – perhaps Osama bin Laden has won. Naylor has the action switch between the two main characters and reminds us of the divide between the east and the west. With a minimal approach to staging and lighting, Naylor’s wisely chosen words pack a human punch. He certainly has us thinking again about our integrity and priorities.
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