Following a successful run at the Finborough theatre, An Incident At The Border has transferred to London’s Trafalgar Studio 2, an intimate space that for 80 minutes on press night would be filled to the brim with uncontrollable raucous laughter.
On a verdant, turf covered set complete with unruly foliage and a surprisingly watery duck pond, Arthur and Olivia sit innocently on a park bench, unaware of the battle they are about to face. As their personal space is invaded by a stubborn law enforcer armed with a roll of tape and a Taser, the couple – and their country – is torn (vaguely) down the middle by a rather obscure and unconventional war.
Writer Kieran Lynn doesn’t paint a serious portrait of a divided nation and this is certainly no Berlin Wall. Divided by a line of tape, the barrier that Arthur and Olivia must overcome in order to be together is less man-made and more… man.
Marc Pickering’s bossy border guard, who enters proceedings like an out of control bulldozer with an uncanny ability to cause destruction while at the same time tracing an absurdly precise line, dominates the stage as he tries to his trivial frontier. Despite manoeuvring around the stage like the teenage mutant ninja turtle adorning his captive’s t-shirt, his military moves are let down by his easily manipulated mind, which is infiltrated by the divided duo into conducting a series of hilarious one-way radio conversations with his elusive superior.
But there’s comic competition to Pickering’s wannabe authoritarian in the form of Tom Bennett’s laid back Arthur whose duck obsession is almost as amusing as the delivery of his deadpan lines. Regardless of being segregated, Tasered, Tasered again and enlisted, there is never a ceasefire to his quick remarks.
Florence Hall as the trouser-wearing girlfriend is the only presence in this witty three hander to bring any sense of importance to what should be an extremely dire situation, determined as she is to be involved in the political intricacies of the war. But her performance doesn’t come without its own hilarity, as her distinct inability to string together simple sayings leaves her several sausage rolls short of a picnic.
While it is difficult to forget that there are some serious incidents taking place out there on real war torn borders, Bruce Guthrie’s amusing production couldn’t deviate further from this terrible truth, presenting a very funny incident at an incredibly ridiculous border.