An Incident at the Border

4 out of 5 stars
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A couple, a lovely day, a duck pond… an international crisis. When their country's border is re-drawn right through the middle of their local park, Arthur (Tom Bennett) and Olivia (Florence Hall) are torn apart and plunged into a nightmare of red tape that escalates into a full-scale military operation.

This new black comedy, written by Kieran Lynn and directed by Bruce Guthrie, is both a clever shot at the bureaucratic chains of command that plague our lives, and a genuinely funny piece of writing.

Marc Pickering is excellent as Reiver, the stun-gun wielding border guard responsible for maintaining the couple's separation, who plans one day to bend all the ducks in the park to his will. His enthusiastic and slightly bumbling dedication to his job makes him the most endearing government worker you could hope to meet. While there's a danger of the character coming across as infantile, Pickering keeps to the right side of the line.

The back-and-forth bickering between the couple, however, feels repetitive, and lacks the charm and intelligence of the rest of the play. Nonetheless, as the couple fight both the government and each other in their attempt to reunite, the play proves both insightful and entertaining, asking whether we should be willing to be 'a cog in the machine' – and how far we can trust society's unseen controllers to do what's right for us.


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