Half of Me @ Lyric Hammersmith

Created in collaboration between Generation Arts and Tamasha Theatre Company, Half of Me follows a young girl as she discovers the truth about her genetic roots. The play, written by Satinder Chohan, explores the experiences by people born  as a result of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Chohan’s text is intriguing and poetic, and brought to life dynamically by the performers of Generation Arts.

Areia (Erica Kouassi) feels different from her family. On a trip to a museum displaying Greek Antiquities, she is drawn to a stone statue, and is overwhelmed by its power and the feelings it evokes. She collapses, and wakes up with her parents around her, discussing her illness: she has a hole in her heart, a genetic condition. Areia finds out the man she has know her life as as her father (Hakeem Jacobs), is actually not biologically connected to her. The hole in her heart is not just a physical defect for Areia, but a metaphorical one too. She decides to head to Greece to find the sperm donor who gave her life, and on the way, discovers the meaning of family.

Generation Arts. "Half Of Me".

Erica Kouassi as Areia

The ensemble work very well together, and their movement during the physical sections of the piece are precise and visually appealing. As a Greek chorus, they are in sync with one another, engaging with the audience when telling Areia’s story. Kouassi who leads the show as Areia is a brilliant performer, embodying the character’s determination flawlessly. It is really enjoyable to see a strong, young, female lead encompass the stage so well. Another performer who stands out amongst the group is Nathan Wallace-Auguste, who hilariously portrays a member of the Greek court with his over-the-top performance, heightening the comedy of the role.

The  contemporary subject matter of Half of Me makes it a fresh and therefore interesting piece of new writing aimed at young people. Chohan’s exploration of non-traditional family structures, the laws surrounding the anonymity of donors, and how these affect those born by ART is an important topic to consider and discuss. Combined with the talented and diverse performers, Half of Me is a valuable and effective play.

Half of Me will be performed by Future Stage Company at Generation Arts in October, and by various regional theatres in 2017 as a curtain raiser to Tamasha’s next national tour, Made in India.

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Fabric @ New Wimbledon Studio

Performed at the New Wimbledon Studio, Abi Zakarian’s play Fabric aims to bring to light the devastating affects rape has on individuals and the way they are treated by those around them. This one-woman show powerfully portrays these harrowing experiences by looking at how society’s obsession with victim-blaming affects individuals.

Leah (Nancy Sullivan) is a 30 something struggling to come to terms with the damaged relationship between her and her friends, family and partner. She talks about the day they first met, the time he introduced her to his mother, who didn’t seem to approve of their relationship. As she tells her story, he is painted in a questionable light, from the way he speaks to her, to their wedding night. In the end, Leah recounts the traumatic night of her rape in a nightclub, and her attacker is someone known to her and her friends.

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Photo: Pamela Raith

Sullivan is brilliant as Leah, effortlessly keeping the audience engaged throughout the show. She draws listeners into her story through her enthusiasm and excitement of recounting her meeting her husband for the first time. The change from the fun-loving and confident Leah to the one looking back and recounting the night of the attack is distressing to watch, especially as Zakarian’s writing is so powerful and visceral. Sullivan performs this exceptionally with her touching and emotional physicality, bringing to the stage the agony of the chilling attack. With Tom O’Brien’s direction, the attack feels very real, taking over Leah’s body, and immersing the audience in her pain. During the middle of the play, the action does draw out slightly and it loses its energy and pace, but Sullivan manages to pick it up once again in the final part of the play.

Fabric draws attention to the way society blames victims for their own rape. As Leah looks back at her attack, forced to relive every moment when repeating it to authorities, to friends and family, it becomes clear that her intoxication on the night, her own sexual encounters, play a part in the way she is perceived by her friends. Those who know her attacker do not believe he is the type of person to commit such a disturbing crime, and Zakarian draws on his appearance and wealth to portray this. In light of the current Standford case, the play is poignant and necessary to highlight the injustices received by rape survivors, and is worth catching it while it is on tour. 

Fabric is currently on tour: The Hawth, Crawly on 20th July; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on 21st & 22nd July; Iron Belly, Edinburgh between 6th – 28th August.