BORDERLAND by Nick Warburton
Premiered at St George’s, Beckenham, Holy Week 2022, dir. Nickie Cox
Thought-provoking from beginning to end, Nick Warburton’s play Borderland introduced its debut Holy Week audience to a motley crowd of characters that had the power to infuriate, challenge, depress, shock, inspire or sadden within a place that, over the centuries, has seen both prayer and protest. “A space between God and the people, between heaven and earth” as one person describes it.
Verger Sam, a mellow fellow who cherishes the silence of the place, introduces the cast in quiet asides. In Clive, the Vice-Dean, we meet a determinedly dignified man consumed by the need for traditional values and behaviour. The varying demands and priorities familiar to many places of worship are recognisable in the characterisation of Clive who dismisses the need for an accessible Community Choir, brainchild of Robyn, Director of Music. To him music is a minor detail, unlike the saving of souls which is his prerogative.
As the play approaches its end, the narrative is drawn together as the characters highlight the dilemma of preservation versus moving on, the place for pastoral care, for compassion, for righteous anger at injustice, for opening eyes to the value and needs of every individual. The audience had seen disparate characters brought to life in a compelling way.
A longer version of this review can be found in the Summer issue of Radius Performing.
The theatre is one of the most expressive and useful vehicles for the edification of a country’s people, and a barometer that marks the country’s greatness or declines. A sensitive theatre . . . can alter a people’s sensibility in just a few years, while a decadent theatre where hooves have taken the place of wings can cheapen and lull to sleep an entire nation.
Federico Garcia Lorca, 1898-1936