Writer: Natasha Marshall
Director: Miranda Cromwell
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The only non-white resident of a parochial West Country village, Jazmin finds herself struggling to fit in despite the support of her grandmother and her best friend, Brogan. Finding she stands out for all the wrong reasons in a place permeated by gossip, ignorance and racism, will Jaz ever learn to stand up for herself?
Performed and authored by Natasha Marshall, Half Breed is a semi-autobiographical piece shot through with witty repartee and blistering observations. Marshall gives a compelling performance, holding the audience rapt throughout the hour. Jaz and Brogan are clearly delineated, both in physicality and vocal style, with Marshall also giving voice to narrow-minded narcissist, Mitchell. Miranda Cromwell’s direction is both stylish and stylised, and the set and costumes satisfyingly simple.
The hardest-hitting moments in the piece are those where Jaz finds herself painfully complicit, laughing at racism in the pub because she hasn’t got the confidence to challenge it. So much of Half Breed happens on and in between the breath, with Marshall punctuating and manipulating thoughts with intakes and exhales as though her life depends on the next. Coupled with the rhythmic language and poetic style, this injects dynamism into the piece, adding tension and weight. However, as captivating as this is, it often seems out of step with the developing plot as the stakes of the central storyline fail to rise to match the intensity of the performance.
An engaging story with an interesting perspective, Half Breed showcases Marshall as a performer and emerging playwright. A window into the insecurity, indecisiveness and the identity crisis this young woman is going through as she approaches a crossroads in her life, the play has some important things to say about the power of using your voice.
Runs until 28 August 2017 | Image: Contributed