Last Friday Roger and I saw a riveting piece of theatre called "Borderland". Two married couples are thrown together on a stormy night. One couple is affluent, and from the city. The other couple live a hardscrabble life in a shack just across the field from the rich couple’s big dream house. The poor wife is abused. The other wife feels isolated and frustrated after agreeing to quit her job for the move to the country, and she is slowly dying inside. Her husband struts around his big house with great self-satisfaction, unaware that his house is built on land that his neighbor (the abusive husband) had roamed as a child, when he had gone hunting with his dad. When the rich wife realizes the other woman is fleeing her husband, she wants to reach out to help, while her husband urges her not to get involved. But when the fleeing woman shows up at their doorstep, with the abusive husband close behind, the affluent pair are inextricably drawn into the other couple’s nightmare. Which only causes the fault lines in their own relationship to crack, and threaten to give way entirely.
The couples fight psychological battles—with the other couple and with each other. Yet at the same time, they struggle to hang on to whatever security they have in each other. It was an intense play, with doors banging, the lights going out ....an increasing sense of danger as the night wore on...a threatening presence in the yard outside, a barking dog, then a gunshot...confusion, chaos, and---yes, blood. Was this going to be a tragedy? I wondered, examining my playbill for clues. If we were on a steady spiral downward, I had to know ahead of time, to prepare myself.
Things deteriorated onstage into quite a mess, but no one died or went completely insane. So I would call it a gripping drama, but not an out and out tragedy, thank goodness. By the end of the evening, there were two bloodied figures onstage, but only one person actually injured. The city slicker husband shot himself in the shoulder by accident with his own gun, and the abusive husband bandaged him so he wouldn’t bleed to death.
Borderland was performed by the KC Rep Theatre. Written by Jim Grimsley, the play "explores the uneasy borders that exist between men and women, rich and poor, and urban and rural."