How far would you go for the people you love? What lies would you tell? What sacrifices would you make? That’s the question at the heart of The Breach, a compelling play which explores these ideas through teenagers living through 1970s America, and their adult selves 30 years later.
Jude and Acton are brother and sister. Their dad is dead and Jude will do anything to protect her brother and look after her family. Acton, however, finds other protection in two boys, Hoke and Frayne, with whom he forms a brotherhood of sorts. For the most part, they talk about what teenage boys usually talk about: sex, girls, college, but their friendship gets more dangerous as they challenge each other to prove their love with potentially horrific consequences. 30 years later, we find out whether it worked out.
The Breach is set against the context of the Vietnam War. Whilst the war only gets a couple of mentions in the script, its influence in the play is profound in two ways. Firstly the war muddied the boundaries of what could be considered right and wrong. It allowed people to convince themselves that choices they make weren’t all black and white. Secondly, the economic consequences of the war are evident and very much the catalyst for the events in the play. Hoke comes from money, he doesn’t have to worry about the same issues Jude and Acton do like whether the electricity is going to stay on, and that money buys him power. His hold over the other boys is evident, with promises of good jobs if they stick together and strings he can pull. Therefore, with his blurred (to put it mildly) boundaries, he is able to push his “brothers” to cross invisible lines in the name of brotherly love.
30 years later and the consequences of choices made during that time are brought to light. As the play flits between the two time periods I was gripped throughout, wanting to see where it would end. The cast were strong and I particularly enjoyed Jasmine Blackborow’s performance as Jude in 1991, at the same time both hardened and softened from her teenage self.
Parts of the play were pretty hard to swallow. The casual, almost matter of fact, discussion of sexual assault from very early on was necessary for the play, but chilling. It is this, more than anything, which highlighted the links to the wartime backdrop where sexual assault, even rape, is used as a weapon, and at times it felt very close to this during the play. Ultimately this contributed to making the play what it was – hard-hitting and utterly gripping.
If I had one criticism, it was that the first half went on a tad too long, but the pace picked up again through the second half leading to a poignant conclusion. Overall, a good watch and I would recommend it.
Review by Emily Gami
Love has no limits for the Diggs siblings: there’s nothing that 17-year-old Jude won’t do to keep her younger brother Acton safe. Growing up in the turbulence of 1970s America, Jude works nights and weekends to pay the bills, just so that they can stay together and with their mother. But when Acton’s troublesome pals form a club in their basement, a foolish game threatens to upend Jude’s plans, and derail their lives forever. How far will Jude go to protect her brother? And who will pay the eventual price of her doing so?
Hindsight proves devastating in this absorbing drama which puts trust and loyalty on the line amongst a group of teenage friends. LISTINGS
Playwright Naomi Wallace
Director Sarah Frankcom
Designer Naomi Dawson
Lighting Designer Rick Fisher
Sound Designer Tingying Dong
Voice Director Michaela Kennen
Movement Director Jennifer Jackson
Casting Director Nadine Rennie CDG
Assistant Director Tramaine Reindorf
Cast Charlie Beck, Jasmine Blackborow, Alfie Jones, Tom Lewis, Douggie McMeekin, Stanley Morgan and Shannon Tarbet
Dates: Friday 6 May – Saturday 4 June 2022
Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, London, NW3 3EU