Borders by Henry Naylor

Henry Naylor’s new play Borders reminds us not to close ourselves off from the plight of Syrian refugees, though it has fizzled out of our daily news. Jumping in and out of two stories, the life of a British photographer and a Syrian graffiti artist, we are tangled in the timeline of events in their lives and witness how their paths meet tragically at the end of the play.

Borders is sobering and powerful

Avital Lvova enthrals us in the story of Nameless, a rebellious young artist who sprays anti-Assad graffiti at night, and is smuggled out of Syria on a fishing boat after discovering she is pregnant. Graeme O’Mara is excellent as photographer Sebastian Nightingale, who once wanted to be a war photojournalist, but is propelled to celebrity after being one of the only people to photograph Osama Bin Laden before the Western world really knew who he was. Stringing together key events, we are given an insight into two juxtaposing stories – one which reveals the human experience of war and violence, and one that is distracted from it through a rose-tinted lens of fame and money. O’Mara is particularly memorable in the way he addresses the need for more coverage on world-wide human tragedy, as opposed to celeb news.

Naylor's writing sees his characters weave in and around terror, love and rebellion. His ability to write such wholesome and human characters – as well as capturing the comedy and irony in our most real experiences – is so refreshing. O’Mara and Lvova expertly command their shared space, and though they never interact with one another, there is a chemistry and tension between the performers. Borders is sobering and powerful in the way it brings together human experience in these two tragic and gripping stories, pointing out that we have put up walls inside our minds and hearts, preventing us from empathising with others. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

The Mediterranean, 2017, rough seas. An ageing fishing boat is sinking fast, under the weight of refugees. As it dips lower in the water, one young Syrian is panicking. She can't swim. And she's six months pregnant... Two-time Fringe First-winner Naylor's Echoes and Angel transferred off-Broadway and won 17 major international fringe awards. The Times wrote: 'Naylor is emerging as one of our best new playwrights', and chose Angel as one of The Ten Best Plays of 2016. Directed by London Classic Theatre's Michael Cabot and featuring the 'astounding' (***** Avital Lvova.