Daniel Bye interweaves the experiments of a mythical performance artist, Edward Shorter, with light-hearted audience interviews and interactions. He quizzes and questions the nature of borders and personal security. This is art with a political bite.
But while Instructions for Border Crossing gets us thinking, it’s not until after the performance that these concepts really sink in. Bye’s script doesn’t coalesce – the variety of devices used to add colour and depth also distract from the overall message.
There is the need for a safe space, as if this is an inflammatory production that requires parking your prejudices at the door. Bye separates stage from audience with a crowd control barrier – a device that demands order and emphasises inequality. It’s a subtle reminder of the demarcation and subsequent unrest generated throughout the narrative.
Bye ingeniously uses double meaning in all aspects of his show, prodding and poking at the idea of personal safety versus national security. He has the relaxed and easy patter of someone who can convince you to open up without ever intimidating you. The world he conjures up feels real thanks, in part, to the inclusion of the evocative story of a plucky young woman who rails against injustice by following Shorter's lead.
Instructions for Border Crossing invites multiple perspectives on both the audience and Bye's characters. The performer's admiration for a surely fictional, but highly believable, performance art activist is a clever smokescreen constructed to tease out the very nature of personal property and security. But this performance advocates change from the comfort of the stage, not from the reality of the border itself.