Soho Theatre and Talawa
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
Natasha Marshall captures the xenophobia, homophobia, small-mindedness and drugs culture typical of oh so many villages in rural Britain with her dynamic monologue Half Breed.
Rap, rhyming couplets, commentary and part-playing brings to life the angst-ridden days immediately prior to a life-changing audition. Difficult role and pace switches are deftly handled by a believable Marshall although some verging on the histrionics moments could be safely pared back.
With her black father having deserted many, many moons ago and an incapable white mum having fled the scene, Jaz lives with her grandma in a Devon village populated by stereotypical gossips, gobby Neanderthal throwbacks and ambivalent ambitionless kids.
Best friend and care system survivor Brogan has no intention of leaving. Her lofty ambition is to have a baby, the sooner the better, and racist thug with a secret Mitchell is in her sights. Posturing and pontificating quickly gives way to submission and wheedling to just be loved.
As much as Brogan considers London evil gangster land with only EastEnders (until Tiffany died) worthy of note, determined that Jaz will succeed, she is pivotal in coaching and making her friend feel the nuances of the chosen soliloquy. And the Shakespeare audition piece is cleverly woven throughout as Jaz’s fear and humiliation paves the path to devastating confrontation, bridges burned and a torment-ridden spot-on performance.
Reviewer: Karen Bussell