Home » London Theatre Reviews » Half me, half you at Tristan Bates Theatre, London | Review

Half me, half you at Tristan Bates Theatre, London | Review

Half me, half you - Photo credit is Katie Edwards
Half me, half you – Photo credit is Katie Edwards

The image of New Yorkers being relentlessly fast-paced and process-driven isn’t universally applicable in Half Me, Half You. Then again, there are going to be all sorts of characters and personalities in any major metropolitan area. The relationship between Meredith (Liane Grant) and Jess (Jennifer Fouché) calls to mind a piece of spoken word I once heard at a wedding. It rambles on at some length about the size of the universe, the planets, the stars, and how many people there are in the world, before zooming in on there being two people in the universe, alive at the same time, who meet and fall in love. Such things cannot, the speech asserted, be accidental or down to mere probabilities – whatever one’s beliefs, it was somehow or other destined that this union came to be.

But this relationship, however joyous it may have been when the pair got married, has turned somewhat sour over time, and it leaves Jess upset because Meredith has done that thing where true feelings have been withheld so as not to hurt the other person, but in the long run, hurts them all the more. When circumstances change so that the cold, hard truth that Meredith has successfully evaded for years cannot help but surface, it hurts badly on both sides that for the sake of love, Meredith wasn’t as brutally honest as she could have been years ago.

There’s a choice to be made, or at least Meredith feels there is, between her choice of profession – she works in the legal sector – and being able to have the time and energy to be a parent to the children the couple wanted. In the dialogue, a few off-stage characters are name-dropped in the first half, such as ‘Howard’, ‘Claire’ and ‘Geoffrey’, though apart from pithy observations about them and their conduct, it is not entirely clear why these characters have been included in the narrative, especially as they are often not referred to again after they are initially discussed.

The performance lasted a little longer than perhaps would have been ideal for the storyline, partly because some pauses are very, very long, sometimes because it is a deliberately awkward silence between characters who are pondering their next move, and sometimes because of the naturalistic setting of both acts. To put it another way, there is, ordinarily, no need to rush and converse at speed when one is at home.

Sixteen years later, Maya (Kalea Williams), adopted by Jess at the age of two, has come to live with Meredith, for reasons the play makes clear. Deb (Evelyn Christian Tonn), who is seeing Meredith – Meredith and Jess, as you will have worked out, parted ways at some point – tries to resolve tensions between Maya and Meredith. Deb is one of those highly positive people; here, she is borderline irritable in her vivacity so early in the morning. On the other hand, the dark and depressing mood is lifted as a direct result of Deb’s presence. Maya describes herself as mixed race, a relevant point in the play because of the discussions regarding the racial prejudice that continues to permeate American society (and apparently still will in 2033).

The first half, in particular, is the stuff of acting with considerable skill: it’s just the two of them on stage for over an hour, Meredith and Jess, going through a gamut of emotions and grappling with a number of issues, from macro-level politics (the Trump Administration is frequently referenced) to IVF. Voice projections could have been better in the second half – to be honest, I struggled to hear certain lines, though the living room ambience the production provides is welcoming, drawing the audience into proceedings.

A compelling, if rather bleak, take on what the future could hold for a child born in 2017, this is a thoughtful and hard-hitting play.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

What if you were black, gay and a woman in America right now?
Jess and Meredith are a married, interracial, gay couple living in New York in 2017 – the era of Trump – weathering a new wave of intolerance, discrimination and oppression, which is sweeping the nation and seeping into their home.
16 years later, Maya, a biracial British teen is forced into American life, braving the aftermath of a second civil war, and changing Meredith’s life irrevocably.
In her remarkable writing debut, Liane Grant’s Half me, half you confronts the reality of the current global climate and explores the consequences for future generations, while reminding us that we are all simply people searching for love and acceptance.
CAST: Liane Grant, Jennifer Fouché and Kalea Williams.
CREATIVE TEAM: Director: Leah Fogo. Designer: Verity Johnson.
Lighting Design: Kate Soper. Sound Design: Scott Stait. Publicity Design: Katie Gabriel Allen.
Producer: Liane Grant (RoL’n Productions). Assistant Producers: Jennifer Fouché, Kalea Williams, Roxanne Lamendola.

RoL’n Productions presents:
Half me, half you
A new play by Liane Grant

Tristan Bates Theatre, London
16th July, 2018 at 7:30 pm

The Tabard Theatre, London
17th – 21st July, 2018 at 7:30 pm

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1 thought on “Half me, half you at Tristan Bates Theatre, London | Review”

  1. Hajjah K Muhammad

    I saw this remarkable new piece, Half You Half Me, in New York. At the end. I was in tears and on my feet, exclaiming, “BRAVO”.

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