BORDERGAME | LIVE REVIEW
BORDERGAME | LIVE REVIEW
National Theatre Wales, various locations between Bristol and Newport, Mon 10 Nov.
What would force you to leave your home and your family behind to start a new life in a new country?
National Theatre Wales have re-imagined Britain as a divided nation. Wales has become its own separate state – the Autonomous Republic of Cymru (ARC). Things are looking bad for the rest of Britain: there are now fees for education and healthcare, a recent outbreak of TB is killing thousands and the people are not happy.
As an immigrant seeking a better life in ARC, Bordergame challenges its players to cross the border from England undetected by the border control agents. They are very vigilant, as ARC does not like health or maternity tourists, and will only allow those who can prove they are healthy, useful workers into the new nation.
Before making your journey, it’s essential to register your details online with an agency who will provide documents to help you in your new life. A family member, Micki, has ensured you have enough money and further instructions waiting in a safe at Bristol Temple Meads Station.
These instructions include a map to a covert meeting place with Coyote who gives you your new British identity passes and may offer you other items that could help you over the border – but all this comes at a price. There are more encounters with shady figures who herd you from place to place, offering you assistance and constantly asking you questions that “every British person knows”. These questions range from the obvious (what is your Queen’s name?) to the more obscure (who is the head of the Scottish church?).
You find yourself on the train from Bristol to Newport with a collection of bizarre items that will help you pass as a British citizen. You can spot your fellow travellers by the green hats with a daffodil that you are all wearing. You have a guide to the British citizenship test and are advised to swot up on its contents. Every couple of seconds a phone will ping as one of the group receives a text or call with further information on the cheap disposable phones you have been given. This train ride is also your chance to barter with your fellow immigrants – what have they got that you haven’t?
On arrival in Wales you are pointed towards immigration control where you are quickly separated, some free to start a new life in ARC, others forced to take more tests or claim asylum. From here, every journey is different.
Eventually, you all meet at the same location and are given the chance to discuss your different journeys. In this safe house, there are also real people who have immigrated to Wales, keen to share their story and perhaps teach you some new card games. NTW have a clear and heartfelt message: that these unfortunate people should be listened to and helped. They are now part of our society and we shouldn’t ignore them.
There are some small anomalies in the narrative and the sense of real danger is never fully realised, but despite this Bordergame is an exciting and innovative adventure. By putting you in the place of an immigrant it forces you to see the absurdity of how people seeking a better life are treated.
words CHELSEY GILLARD