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Borders הגדר ألسياج – VAULT Festival

Separated by twenty kilometres, a border and a barbwire fence, two gay men, one an Israeli Jew and the other a Lebanese Arab find each other on Grindr and start a friendship that turns into an impossible love affair by text. And that’s basically the very slight plot of Borders, a play written by Israeli playwright Nimrod Danishman.

Borders הגדר ألسياج - VAULT Festival
Borders הגדר ألسياج – VAULT Festival

Separated by a wall both metaphorical and in this production, physical, the two characters Boaz played by Yaniv Yafe and George (Tarik Badawan) send each other “dick pics”, ask each other intimate questions, bicker, profess their love and make plans to meet up in Berlin. However, that’s thwarted when circumstances change and Boaz is called back into the Israeli army due to hostilities breaking out on the border that separates the two men.

The problem with Borders is that what could have been an interesting discourse between two diametrically opposed characters who although separated by religion, ethnicity and a fence, still fall in love and have a relationship by text, never discuss their different ideologies and situations so it’s just a not very exciting love story which is a shame as there’s a much more interesting story to be told.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of chemistry between the two actors who shout at each other a lot (as their relationship is via text, it must have been in capital letters) and we never really empathise with their situation. There’s also a lot of unnecessary stage business moving the wall around which distracts from the dialogue. I’ve seen this play performed with just two chairs and a line on the floor indicating the border between the two countries and it worked a lot better. However, the lighting by Cheng Keng works really well as does the interesting background music by Bar Harel which adds another layer to the production.

In the end, Borders is just another love story with an interesting backstory that never really gets explored. There’s no real tension between the two characters which given the circumstances of who they are, where they live and the lives they lead on the edge of war, is disappointing. After one false ending, the play ends with a bit of a whimper with that embarrassing gap between blackout and applause as the audience wonder if it’s over – in this case it was and it marked the end of a disappointing sixty minutes.

2 gold stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Boaz and George meet on Grindr. One is in Israel, the other in Lebanon, both horny but unable to meet physically. Something in their conversation excites them. The distance, the “enemy”, the foreignness, the experience of being gay in another culture. They fill a void in each other, fostering a secret love. As they decide to meet in Berlin, the border between the countries heats up and they’re forced to make difficult decisions.

Inspired by a real encounter between Israeli writer Nimrod Danishman and a Lebanese man on Grindr, Borders is a story about two people, never meant to meet, who try to form an intimate relationship against all odds. Scripted very delicately with a touch of humour, it addresses the complexities of the Middle East reality in which the geopolitical circumstances we are born into dictate the people we can connect with.

Cast & Creatives
Boaz is played by Yaniv Yafe and George is played by Tarik Badwan.
Director – Neta Gracewell Writer – Nimrod Danishman
Set & Costume Designer – Ethan Cheek Lighting Designer – Cheng Keng
Composer & Sound Designer – Bar Harel Movement Director – Adi Gortler
Associate Producer & Stage Manager – Maria Majewska Translator – Adi Drori

Running time: 60 minutes, no interval
Venue: Crescent, The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN
Content notes: 12+ (sexual references, strong language)

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