Pros: The subtle approach taken is a surprise and makes this more powerful than had it taken a more direct approach to its subject matter.
Cons: The first scene is heavy going and could do with a little editing down, if only to allow more space to expand the second.
Half Me, Half You really is a play of two halves, and whilst there is much that is good about both, the first has to be endured in order to fully appreciate the second.
So let’s start with that first half. It’s modern day America where Trump is President, so if you’re a married, bi-racial lesbian couple, you really do have a lot on your plate. Enter Jess (the stand out Jennifer Fouche) and Meredith (Lianne Grant, in her duel role as actor and writer), who are the aforementioned married bi-racial lesbian couple. Already you are thinking this is not going to end well. And given that within the first few minutes Meredith miscarries the baby that Jess is desperate they have, things really do get bleaker by the minute. From that point on it is a downward spiral. It’s a one hour single scene as Jess and Meredith examine their relationship, their individual thoughts on losing the child, and their fear of living in a world where it’s acceptable to treat blacks, gays and women as second class citizens. As Meredith says, why would you bring a biracial child into that world?
It’s dark, bleak and full-on. It’s also powerful and heart-breaking; Liane Grant knows how to write dialogue. But as compelling as it is, it comes as a relief when the scene finally ends and we can all take a break!
Having made it through that first half, the second changes everything. This is why you have to endure the first hour, because the second is so very different. Remarkable, given that the setting is even bleaker than before. It’s 16 years later, America has experienced a second Civil War caused by Trump’s policies and his empowerment of white supremacists. An uprising of those suppressed minorities has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the country is still counting the cost of Trump’s presidency.
Enter Maya (Kalea Williams), the adopted bi-racial teenage daughter of Jess, brought up in England, but forced to move to America as the story picks back up, finding herself living with Meredith, her mother’s ex-wife, whom she doesn’t know. This half is divided into smaller segments, and with the introduction of Deb, Meredith’s new and stereotypical American soccer mom girlfriend, there is breathing space. Mia and Meredith examine their roles as the two people most touched by Jess but in such different ways: lover and mother. At the same time, it also examines the differing roles Meredith and Jess had in the shaping of the new America, a place where apartments close to any of Trump’s towers are more affordable, given the risk of them being bombed!
What makes Half Me, Half You so remarkable is that even with the complete dystopia that the second half offers up, it is done with a beautiful subtlety. Nothing is forced down your throat, there is no preaching about how the white majority caused this to happen; it hints at things rather than shouts about them. It uses them as a backdrop to examine the state of the world as it is today, where racism, homophobia and sexism are almost being made acceptable, and hate crime is on the rise.
Half Me, Half You may say Trump on the cover, but this could easily have used Brexit as its focus and come to the same conclusion. And for that reason this play is well worth the time of any left leaning theatre loving person, be they white, black, gay, straight, male or female.
Written by: Liane Grant
Directed by: Leah Fogo
Produced by: RoLn Productions
Booking until: 21st July
Booking Link: https://tabardtheatre.nliven.co/tickets/series/halfme?startDate=07-01-2018#mapView