It’s rare to witness a work that tackles its concepts so bluntly and fearlessly. So often in dance we are challenged to look at the subtleties and nuances; but Protein’s Border Tales is a daring piece of theatre that tackles the issues surrounding multiculturalism head on, with humour and feeling.
Featuring a stripped back cast of seven for this short run at The Place, Luca Silvestrini provides each with a platform to tell their own personal story and address the stereotypes each of them encounters everyday. Border Tales was first performed back in 2013 but takes on a new relevance in Brexit-bound United Kingdom.
The opening imagery is a stark depiction of a fight against an invisible force. A jagged line of neon cuts the stage in two. Eryck Brahmania is torn between the two borders, his body contorting, as he attempts to channel his energy through jumps and leaps until he comes across his fellow storytellers and a comical series of greetings are exchanged.
The story is topped and tailed with a welcome party for the various “foreigners” hosted by Andy: a 'salt of the earth' Northerner struggling to make sense of his new neighbours’ cultures and desperately trying not to offend them, while simultaneously doing the opposite. He encourages guests not to shake hands but bow to Yuyu, a young Taiwanese lady; 'You can bow but don’t touch' he repeats several times. 'I bet you could murder a Jasmine tea!' he suggests triumphantly to Yuyu’s dismay.
Other guests include Irishman Stephen, Nigerian Temi, a Muslim named Asif and Cantonese Kenny, all of whom are welcomed by Andy, his hysteria mounting, with the same predictable stereotyping. What comes across to them as racial prejudice is in fact Andy’s attempt to be accommodating.
Much of the welcome party and subsequent sections rely on the spoken word and at times Border Tales feels like a play rather than dance/physical theatre. However when performed, Silvestrini’s choreography is just as witty as the dialogue.
The powerful 'I think, you think' section, where stereotypes directly address the audience, is another bold addition. Yuyu Rau, with her small frame and vulnerable demeanour, is particularly memorable as she hits the nail on the head, 'I think, you think I am a delicate lotus flower' as she is flung up in the air by her fellow cast while remaining elegant and unflappable. Her movements are ethereal and lyrical and contrast with the shuffling feet poking out from under a kimono which she identifies as the cultural expectation.
The dance sequences are uplifting and spirited. For all their unique stories and struggles, the cast dance with vibrant unity in the energetic finale of synchronised movements. Border Tales may not tackle anything we didn’t already know but the topic is addressed with humour and personal stories which will linger in the mind for long after.
Age Recommendation: 12+
|What||Protein Dance, Border Tales Review|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston Square (underground)|
14 Nov 17 – 18 Nov 17, 20:00 Dur.: 80 minutes
|Price||£16 (concessions £12)|
|Website||Click here to book via The Place|