Tag Archives: Neta Gracewell

“Borders” at the Vault Festival

Nimrod Danishman’s play has the tricky framework of two protagonists communicating solely by a dating app. Aside from the fact that the set-up isn’t that clear (starting the play with them on phones might help?) director Neta Gracewell handles the lack of action well. Restlessness reflects the characters frustration, and Ethan Cheek’s neat design serves as a set to lounge on while also separating the men – Boaz in Israel and George in Lebanon- who cannot meet in real life.

The cultural and political divide is where the play has most potential. But while Danishman isn’t obliged to educate his audience, and is providing a different take on conflict in the Middle East by giving voices to gay characters, there is less about the events than you might expect. It is interesting that we see how Boaz and George’s everyday lives are affected but there is little discussion about what’s going on and what we do hear, seems naive. The men seem so reluctant to argue they end up not saying much.

The characters themselves are intriguing. And there are strong performances from Yanic Yafe and Tarik Badwan who hold the stage effortlessly. The roles aren’t balanced; George’s poetical streak means Yafe has most chance to stand out. But Badwan makes the more reserved George endearing and is deeply moving at a moment of high emotion.

Given that the couple experience an escalation in conflict at the border, emotions are remarkably restrained. But it is their relationship itself that is too much of a surprise. While the flirting is sweet, the connection they form doesn’t convince. When their affection starts to get serious, including making plans to travel together, it’s too much of a strain. The motivations and conflicts for both men need elaborating. It’s clear that their future isn’t together. But that I cared about what happens next for both characters, shows the strength of Danishman’s writing.

Until 12 February 2023