Instructions for Border Crossing
Annabel Turpin at ARC
Northern Stage at Summerhall
Daniel Bye is a charming host. He is engaging us in conversation even as we settle into our seats. Would anyone be interested in joining him for a game of jenga, he asks.
Someone does and they begin to play at a table on a raised stage platform that is surrounded by the light security barrier you often see outside nightclubs.
That barrier and his nervousness about crowds lead him to talk about border crossings and the ideas of the imagined border activist Edward Shorter.
The rest of the event takes the form of a series of interactive illustrations of Shorter’s interventions. The audience is asked a question. One of those raising their hands is then coaxed into joining on the platform while he tells a small border story.
The sequence is repeated a number of times till finally he asks who has ever made made an act of defiance and stood firm against odds. By that time we knew what putting our hands up meant so we all stood firm against admitting we ever did any such thing.
It was probably not the answer he had hoped for and, to make matters worse, the volunteer who joined him for this last sequence did not take a hint and pull down the security barrier. It gave a deflated feel to end of the show.
Daniel Bye is an entertaining storyteller and that makes the performance interesting, particularly when the lights are lowered for one of his short stories, but the interaction with the audience seemed to lack any purpose and that is the core of the show.
Its politics are generous, tolerant and hopeful but more work is needed on the way these are expressed before either the performer or the audience can be satisfied with what takes place.