Saturday, November 28, 2009

"An Incident at the Border" - November 2009

Rounding off the autumn season of "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" at Oran Mor before their Christmas show gets a three week run, Kieran Lynn's "An Incident at the Border" is a perfect example of the highs that can be achieved in the format. It's short, snappy, brilliantly performed and packs a considerable punch.

Ashley Smith's Olivia and Laurie Brown's Arthur are at first surprised and bemused as their peaceful moment on a park bench is interrupted by Keith Fleming's novice border guard, Reiver. However their bemusement turns quickly to frustration and anger as it becomes clear that having divided the couple at either end of their bench, Reiver is going to strictly control the border that divides the two newly independent countries.

What follows is a perfect blend of sharp dialogue, pointed observations, well formed characters and moments of farce that works on a number of levels. The cast handle the switches between the comedic and serious moments seemlessly and there's never a sense of it being unbalanced or fragmented. The structure of the piece is inherently limited by the set-up, and I was starting to wonder how exactly Lynn was going to extricate his characters from the corner he had painted them into without straying into 'deus ex machina' territory. Fortunately the resolution, while certainly abrupt, is suitably satisfying.

Oran Mor audiences tend to be generous with their enthusiasm (I think the pie and pint help) and the play received a strong response at the 'curtain call' but during the play I'm not sure it got all the laughs it deserved to get. Quite often in theatres I find myself sitting in silence while everyone else seems to be laughing, but at times here I definitely felt I was one of the few who was getting some of the gags.

An Incident at the Border has completed its run at Oran Mor
Image by Leslie Black Photography used with permission