Junction Theatre’s debut production, Borders, is a deeply emotional and original piece about a pair of gay men looking for a connection.
This is a play about the personal and the political, about sexuality and soldiers, idealism and instant connection. It is economical in its approach and construction, yet utterly compelling.
Boaz (Yaniv Yafe) and George (Tarik Badwan)match online through a dating app, although it states they are just metres apart, it might as well be a world away as one is in Israel, the other in Lebanon.
We eavesdrop on their online chat, flirting, and sharing, and watch how each reacts. They never meet, and the actors only look at each other once, at a pivotal point in the plot where the political overtakes any fantasies or wishes of life.
The set (designed by Ethan Cheek) of interlocking wooden blocks doubles as a seat, a bed, a wall. It is both symbolic and warm, adding to the intensity of this love affair, which thrives on nightly messages.
As the play progresses, the chemistry between the actors is tender, playful, and constant. At one point, they attempt to ‘sext’, a scene that reminded me of Martin Sherman’s Bent, where the men imprisoned in camp achieve a physical intimacy without touch.
Nimrod Danishman’s play is intimate, funny, tender, harsh, and everything in between. Neta Gracewell’s direction addresses the heart of the piece and creates a world of shadows, movement, hope, and the chance to be who you are.
We know little about Boaz and George beyond their messages. In Lebanon, jets fly over residential houses in constant threat, and there are armed guards over the border. Boaz was once a fighting soldier, likely to have killed.
These men are enemies, never meant to meet, but yet human connection can overcome an inbuilt distrust of the enemy for a while. Both men glow with happiness as they chat – but the real world is never far away.
Borders has a potent energy that keeps audiences enthralled. It is an electric debut and a definite hit.
Borders plays at the Vault Festival until 12 Feb. Ticket link: https://vaultfestival.com/events/borders