Pros: Fantastic live music beautifully performed by multi-instrumentalist Anthar Kharana.
Cons: Simplistic and patronising.
Originally conceived and staged in 2013, Border Tales claims to gaze ‘satirically on stereotypical thinking about migrant outsiders and bigoted homelanders’. The satire has no bite and consists mainly of re-iterating hackneyed stereotypes which only serves to give them mileage, when the subject is worthy of a far more sophisticated debate.
Loosely structured around a party, the ‘bigoted homelander’ is Andy, a white man from Yorkshire. Over the course of 75 minutes it is presumed the audience will cringe at Andy’s ignorance and prejudice, as he offers rum and ginger beer to the black woman, and Guinness to the Irishman. By painting Andy as an unlikable figure of fun, who sweats and fidgets awkwardly, the piece (perhaps inadvertently) perpetuates the most dangerous stereotype of all in the context of post-Brexit Britain: the bigoted Northerner. A truly contemporary, relevant, and inclusive debate would surely address the fact that the economically disenfranchised North was exploited by the Leave campaign, and underestimated by Remainers.
Delivering monologues whilst dancing either solo or in duo, several performers spoke movingly about their experiences as second generation immigrants. These were fundamentally about being seen as ‘the other’, and could have made for an interesting work. But they were not urgently politicised tales of border crossings in a Brexit context, in which, for example, migrants fleeing warzones have been characterised by some parts of the media as vermin.
The ‘I think that you think’ section, (the Egyptian dancer for example, said ‘I think you think I beat my wives’) was woefully generalised, and begged the question as to where the ‘you’ they were addressing was. It felt as though the audience was expected to smirk at the ignorance of the viewpoint of somebody who wasn’t present. If it had been truly concerned with addressing bigotry, it would not have laughed at it. There was an air of self-congratulation about the applause, with many audience members leaping to their feet and applauding ostentatiously. But the uncomfortable questions had not even been asked, let alone answered.
Director: Luca Silvestrini
Composer: Andy Pink
Producer: Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance with The Place
Box Office: 0131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/border-tales
Booking Until: 26 August 2017