dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Half Breed review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘excoriating but exhausting’

Natasha Marshall in Half Breed. Photo: Richard Davenport Natasha Marshall in Half Breed. Photo: Richard Davenport

Natasha Marshall’s first full-length show Half Breed bubbles with hate, bitterness and a visceral, vital defiance. An hour-long monologue, grown from the seed of spoken-word poetry, performed by Marshall herself and staged with stark economy by Miranda Cromwell, it tells the story of Jazmin, a mixed-race teenager struggling to escape her oppressive West Country home.

It’s a technically dazzling piece of writing. In the first person, Marshall fiercely evokes the small-minded world Jazmin has grown up in – its stunted ambition in her best friend’s instinctive fear of London; its prejudice in a local lad’s brazen racial slurs and the laughter ringing around the pub.

Half Breed repeatedly climbs snappily poetic peaks, Marshall working herself up into a fever pitch of spitting verse, then skipping and stuttering like a scratched CD. It’s a powerful tool, a window into the jumble of thoughts and fears swirling around her head – an identity crisis happening out loud.

But for all its energy and anger, and despite a fine, febrile performance from Marshall, Half Breed loses something in its relentless vitriol. The characters become caricatures, the frenzied fury grows one-note, and the cathartic conclusion hollows out. It’s an important and excoriating show, but also an exhausting one.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Summary: A visceral, vitriolic portrait of a mixed-race teenager and her struggle against parochial prejudice 
^