Croydonites Festival 2018 review: Natasha Marshall’s Half Breed

By - Friday 25th May, 2018

One woman’s struggle to escape the labels that she loathes

Photo by Croydonites Festival of New Theatre, used with permission.

“I want to be someone – not just that one.”

Half Breed: one woman alone on a stage, bare save for a backdrop of scattered lamps; no props, clever, subtle lighting and sound creating mood, context and location and… that’s it.

The rest is pure, raw energy from an incredibly talented young performer and writer. The energy grips you by the hand and doesn’t let go, taking you through an array of emotions, living every experience with Jasmine, the main protagonist and storyteller, as she fills the stage and becomes the other characters in her story. The story is one of longing to belong, of chasing dreams, of racism and ignorance, and of love.

I almost forgot at times that there was just one woman on the stage

I am not sure if I blinked for that entire hour, so difficult was it to take my eyes from the amazing Natasha Marshall, almost forgetting at times it really was just one woman on the stage.

The style is rhythmical and poetic, using repetition, guttural sounds and gesticulation to switch seamlessly into her characters. These devices also succeed in generating tension, emotion and atmosphere, creating her own soundtrack: the grandma’s rasping breaths merge with Jasmine’s own conflicting emotions. We experience the turmoil within as Jasmine struggles to break free from the constraints of her life in a provincial village in Somerset, a place where no one ever leaves.

We’re rooting for her as she fights to escape to a place where one’s identity is not a label awarded by other people but something discovered from within. Powerfully directed by Miranda Cromwell, and superbly performed by Natasha Marshall, Half Breed is a must-see.

Ivonne Fernandes-Bonnar

Ivonne Fernandes-Bonnar

Ivonne is a freelance artist, with a background in theatre design, who currently runs art sessions for adults with learning difficulties at day centres in the local area. She is a mother of three and has lived in Croydon for over forty years since travelling over from Nairobi with her family as a young child.

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