Luca Silvestrini has remounted ‘Border Tales’, originally staged in 2014, at a most poignant time. Without a doubt it was just as relevant then, but as we enter the transition of Brexit, and continue to see too much race related violence and crime in this country, it most certainly carries as much impact now as it did then. What the 2017 cast of seven performers at this year’s Fringe succeed in performing is the perfect balance of hard hitting reality and comic satire focusing on what life is like in today’s multicultural Britain. Despite the beauty of the choreography, the piece moves between great elegance and the kind of angst inducing scenarios we have so often been witness to. Additionally, this piece is so much more than merely ‘dance’. The fusion of physical theatre, spoken word and verbatim theatre draws together arguably one of the most important issues within today’s society; and better still, allows us to examine these issues in a safe space in spite of its very real confrontations.
There are so many memorable moments in the performance that it’s difficult to highlight them without outlining the entire show, however one has to single out the scene in which Temitope highlights the ‘Beyoncé style’ stereotype in a way which is both highly amusing, but also forces the audience to acknowledge how much of an icon of prominent black women in today’s culture the singer has become. Perhaps here we take a moment to recognise the role the media plays in actively enforcing this stereotype, whilst at the same time realising the importance of acknowledging that she is one person, not the definition of half the population of an entire race. The scene is fascinating, and brings Temitope to our attention in preparation for a performance throughout the piece that is both bold, powerful and deeply moving. The story of her history is stunning. I would also mention the similarly powerful performance of Salah, from his evolving hand- shake duet to possibly the most poignant scene in the piece, involving a rucksack and a pronounced use of space. Salah reveals himself not only as an outstanding dancer, but as a performer of powerful intensity.
The music, composed by Andy Pink, adds an additional dynamic to the performance, reinforcing the heritage of the multicultural cast, and the rich, powerful voice of Anthar gives an unexpected emotional quality to the action which is quite mesmerising. Alongside the spoken word within the piece, used to enhance the themes, the aural elements provide as much impact as the dance itself.
‘Border Tales’ is in itself an important piece of work, especially in today’s cultural and political climate. Truly outstanding work.