DramaOnlineReview

Half Breed – Soho Theatre on Demand

Reviewer: Lily Gill

Writer: Natasha Marshall

Director: Miranda Cromwell

Drawing loosely on some of Natasha Marshall’s own experiences of growing up Mixed-Race in a predominantly White area of Wiltshire, Half Breed is a one-woman show. The story revolves around the main protagonist, Jazmin (Jaz), who is grappling with her identity, her parochial environment and her dreams of moving to London which would involve leaving her grandmother and best friend behind. As well as her desire to attend drama school there, Jaz believes that London can offer a clean slate and respite from the racism she endures living a small West Country village.

Jaz’s relationship with her best friend Brogan is a theme that runs throughout the show. They have both experienced being outsiders; Brogan, due to her life in foster care and Jaz, due to her race. However, it seems that this is where the similarities end and the audience will wonder why Jaz is wanting to hold on to this questionable friendship so tightly. Jaz and Brogan have very different outlooks on life; as Jaz plans her new life in London, Brogan has no desire to ever leave the village and her dreams stop at becoming a mother. It is uncomfortable for the audience to witness Brogan’s casual racism and this conflict only heightens when she meets her new boyfriend Mitchell who is loud, ignorant and racist. The plot accelerates when Jaz finds herself having to spend evenings listening to Mitchell regaling the local pub with prejudice filled tales. It is excruciating to watch Jaz wrestle with her own reactions to Mitchell’s tales; she ultimately chooses to laugh along in a desire to fit in but evidently dislikes herself for doing so.

Marshall plays every character and moves seamlessly between them; from the primarily meek Jaz, to the abrasive Mitchell, to the patronising policeman who she has to deal with after an incident involving her grandmother’s house. Marshall slips in and out of the different characters, much like Jaz herself, who is constantly changing her reactions and feelings in response to her surroundings, adding to her almost constant state of confusion and indecisiveness.

It is no easy feat to hold a stage alone for a full hour but Marshall does so with energy and authenticity. Half Breed was developed out of spoken word nights and this is evident from the lyrical use of language that shapes the storytelling and helps to keep the audience invested in Jaz’s situation. The viewer will feel discomfort at times due to the rawness of Jaz’s experience. However, Marshall injects the right amount of humour to balance this, whilst not diluting the true message; speak up for yourself, know who you are and follow your dreams.

Available here until 20 February 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Poignant and powerful

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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