AN INCIDENT AT THE BORDER
by Kieran Lynn.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 7 August 2012.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 July.
Pleasant diversion rather than forceful play.
Since emerging as a lunchtime piece, alongside a pie and a pint, among the new plays running a week each at Glasgow’s Oran Mor, Kieran Lynn’s piece has been expanded. There’s skill in the new version, but it was probably at its best under an hour, accompanied by food and drink.
Lynn treads the edge of several styles – political, absurd, romantic comedy. Two lovers meet on a bench (designer Sophia Simensky skilfully creating a park setting and disguising the very different set of the Finborough’s current main production). It might be lunchtime one fine day in the Botanics across from Oran Mor. Except this must be another country, for suddenly Reiver looms from the foliage, stepping over their bench, sticky-tape in his wake. He’s redefining two country’s borders (presumably Alex Salmond wouldn’t be splitting from England anywhere around Glasgow).
Reiver (the name for Scots/English Border raiders), in uniform insinuating police or military authority, is a low-grade functionary whose obedience to authority runs alongside frequent eye-popping surprise in Marc Pickering’s comic performance. Yet comedy mixes with Kafka, and nobody seems so funny when they’re wielding a stun-gun.
What hangs uncertain for a time is the impact of his tape casually coming between Olivia and Arthur. When Arthur tries crossing it he’s prevented. What starts as a ridiculously irksome detail soon takes over the lovers’ lives.
Absurd as it is – Reiver, who can’t operate his weapon till Arthur unwisely shows him how, constantly seeks radioed instructions from his superior – the comedy of bureaucratic systems, where no-one holds responsibility, leans against the consequences for those caught up in manoeuvres unseen forces evidently take very seriously. Later, the play examines how the lovers’ love rested on assumptions tested when politics interfere. Florence Hall takes Olivia from moral support to shocked questioning her boyfriend’s commitment, while Tom Bennett shows how unready his Arthur is for serious stuff in life.
Bruce Guthrie directs efficiently, and Lynn’s script never treads water. Yet somehow, for all its good moments, and consistent thread the piece lacks any strong focus to hit home with either terror or humour.
Olivia: Florence Hall.
Arthur: Tom Bennett.
Reiver: Marc Pickering.
Director: Bruce Guthrie.
Lighting: Humphrey McDermott.
Sound: Paul Roberts.
Music: Zands Duggan, Louise Morgan.
Assistant director: Becky Catlin.