Dance, Physical Theatre And Circus review: Border Tales

The funny, thought-provoking Border Tales celebrates our differences, yet acknowledges our similarities. Picture: Chris Nash
The funny, thought-provoking Border Tales celebrates our differences, yet acknowledges our similarities. Picture: Chris Nash
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: It’s only four years since choreographer Luca Silvestrini created Border Tales for Protein Dance, and yet so much has changed. The Brexit vote, and resulting rise in race-related hate crimes, prompted him to re-work the piece – and it couldn’t be more vital.

Summerhall (Venue 26)

*****

As much as we like to think otherwise, perceptions and judgments are often split-second decisions based on what we see. The colour of somebody’s skin, the way they’re dressed, their accent. And even if those perceptions are benign, they can be loaded with cultural stereotypes that reduce a person to what they are, rather than who.

Silvestrini plays with all that, with wit and wisdom, giving us an easy, non-judgmental space in which to consider life in another person’s shoes. We meet Kenny, born in Mansfield to parents from Hong Kong. At school, he loved to play kiss chase, but none of the girls wanted to be caught by him. Temitope is a Londoner, born to Nigerian parents, with a love for her heritage but doing things her way. YuYu moved to England from Taiwan – not Thailand, or China, or Vietnam or any of the other places people think she’s from. Salah is a Muslim from Egypt – leading to a hilarious, yet troubling, routine when he arrives wearing a rucksack.

They’re all joined by two men who, our assumption would be, have little trouble blending in: Stephen from the Republic of Ireland and Andy from Leeds. They’re both white males, so what’s the problem? For Stephen, it happens as soon as he opens his mouth, his Irish brogue leading to seemingly harmless comments about Guinness drinking and child abuse in the Catholic church.

While Andy is struggling to find the right thing to say without causing offence, or even which drink to offer his party guests.

As their stories play out, musician Anthar Kharana provides a live soundtrack to Silvestrini’s powerful contemporary dance choreography, beautifully interwoven with traditional moves from the rich tapestry of cultures onstage.

Funny, thought-provoking and consistently entertaining, Border Tales celebrates our differences, acknowledges our sameness and does more to repair the rifts than politics ever could.

Until 26 August. Today 2:40pm.