Half Breed

Natasha Marshall’s Half Breed is a vibrant and moving monologue about what it is like to grow up mixed race in a parochial white community. The one-woman show follows the story of Jazmin, a mixed race girl who lives with her grandmother in a in rural West Country village, where everyone around her is white. Itching with the discomfort of not belonging and hungry for better things, Jazmin sets out to reach drama school. We watch was Jazmin attempts to negotiate friendship and loyalty, challenge racism, and find a voice for herself within her insular community.

The performance is full of personality and rich characterisation, while at the same time telling an important story about Britain’s ongoing racism.

Marshall does an excellent job playing Jazmin. Her performance is lively, funny and compelling, and the audience can’t help but empathise with her predicament. From time to time, sections of the monologue written in verse and Marshall deftly segues into poetry without allowing her persona to slip. Her portrayal of the other characters is arguably less convincing. At times the people in her village feel like hillbilly pastiches, although the play gets away with this thanks to its general suspension of naturalism.

The show’s decision to mingle Jazmin’s inner thoughts with her speech is an interesting touch, and it makes the performance much more emotionally intense as the audience is privy to her anxious internal monologue. At times, however, this device becomes confusing and leads to a chaotic effect on stage.

The entire production is ably illuminated by Amy Mae’s lighting design. The simple but effective washes of colour give a sense of place and atmosphere, and are elegantly complemented by the injection of ambient sound effects.

As the feminist aphorism goes ‘the personal is political’, and this truism resonates throughout the show. The performance is full of personality and rich characterisation, while at the same time telling an important story about Britain’s ongoing racism. 

Reviews by Nuri Syed Corser

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘I am that mixed raced kid, like 50/50, on the fence, lukewarm, in-between maybe. Trust me, around here I’m about as black as it goes…’ Jazmin feels different. She doesn’t want to stay in the village. She doesn’t want to have a baby. She doesn’t want to laugh at racist jokes in the local pub. She’s got to get out. A partly autobiographical dark comedy about finding your voice. Written and performed by Alfred Fagon Award shortlisted writer Natasha Marshall.

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