(Originally published by What’s on Stage Aug ’12)
A young couple discover just how testing relationships can be in this crackling play by Kieran Lynn. Having just transferred to the West End from the Finborough theatre, it’s a punchy and humorous social commentary on the lines that divide us.
In an unknown location, Olivia and Arthur sit on a bench, feeding ducks and enjoying the sanctuary offered by a park. Their idyllic scene is disrupted by the emergence of Reiver, a border guard who, following the formation of a new Republic, uses red and white tape to define the country’s new border.
Suddenly on opposite sides, the couple grapple with the slightly awkward, yet determined jobsworth, to reunite. This dividing line, in this absurd scenario, becomes the catalyst for humorous revelations, uncomfortable truths and doubt, which morph this physical separation into an emotional one.
Lynn’s piece, however, offers more than a comical insight into the dynamics of a relationship. It’s a sharp, political satire that reflects on the bureaucracy that has come to govern society and the harsh reality faced by those who find themselves trapped by division and conflict.
Tom Bennett is strong as the laid-back and likeable Arthur, who constantly interjects with declarations of duck envy: “I wish I was a duck.” He’s flanked by the less convincing Florence Hall, as his demanding and pushy girlfriend, desperate to be involved in the decisions which impact on society. And Marc Pickering brings energy and fun to the role of lonely heart Reiver.
The trio are complimented nicely by Sophia Simensky‘s set design, which creates a park-like island in Studio 2, complete with a lake, shrubs and jagged-edged clouds; symbolising the clash between cutting lines and the natural order.
In this pithy production, Lynn’s quick and easy wit travels at a steady pace. Bruce Guthrie‘s direction ensures a delicate equilibrium is struck between humour and drama. And although the characters sometimes lack depth, An Incident at the Border elicits seamless laughter, whilst reflecting on the emotional lines between a couple, and the “imaginary” lines that govern humanity.