Victory Gardens Theater Presents
BREACH: a manifesto on race in America through the eyes
of a Black girl recovering from self-hate
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Lisa Portes
February 9 – March 11, 2018
There is an adage that states one must learn to love oneself before loving someone else; but what happens when you are the one plagued with so much self-hatred you don’t even know what love is? What happens when you have a hatred that is so deep-rooted that you are incapable of looking in the mirror and liking what is looking back? A person who has a multitude of prejudices against his/her own race can become delusional to the absolute truth of what life means.
In playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s “love letter to Black women” comedy-drama “Breach,” she explores gender and race in America through the eyes of a young Black girl recovering from self-hatred. Her dynamic storytelling proceeds her stellar work in “Pass Over,” a mashup of “Waiting for God” and the biblical Exodus story in a modern urban setting.
Margaret (Caren Blackmore), the protagonist of the play, is in a fizzling relationship and has a dead-end job that allows her to teach classes at her local college. She has been raised by her sassy Aunt Sylvia (Linda Bright Clay) who had unknowingly embedded hate within Margaret’s heart on how she views the Black men in her life starting with her father who abandoned her when she was a young child. Fast-forwarding into the future, the young, intelligent, and effervescent Margaret is caught up in a love triangle with two men vying for her heart.
Nate (Keith D. Gallagher), her MBA Finance White boyfriend of many years who loves to drink $7,000 bottles of champagne and spoil her with shiny trinkets, is a workaholic who is on the fast track of retiring by 30 if the numbers are right.
Then there’s Rasheed (Al’Jaleel McGhee), who is the total opposite of Nate. He is a young African American guy who was once in prison who has climbed his way out from his past to become department head who just so happens to be Margaret’s new boss. Rasheed and Margaret’s relationship starts off extremely combative, which makes her self-hate more challenging in more ways than one. However, Margaret finds herself attracted to Rasheed, and afterward, she is unexpectedly having his child. Rasheed is a man she never even considered giving the time of day due to her thoughts about Black men.
Director Lisa Portes engaged us with this profound content on self-hatred and how it can affect one’s life. However, she inserted in lots of humor with the quick-witted actress Karen Rodriguez (Carolina), who played the pregnant cleaning lady at Margaret’s office who stole the performance in every scene, which was the right mixture to help us intake Margaret’s self-hate.
With the help of Carolina and Sylvia, we ultimately get a chance to see a gradual change in Margaret. Her change can be seen during one scene where she discarded her over-the-top wig she once wore to be more attractive and acceptable. Margaret finally seems to have embraced her natural coils of hair and has learned what is important in life. (Note: hair is symbolic in Margaret’s self-discovery of learning how to love herself indefinitely.)
After telling Nate about her pregnancy and who the father is, Margaret realizes that no matter how good Nate looks on paper, and the tremendous financial future he could offer her, he was never going to cure her feelings of self-hate. She also realizes they are not compatible. She also makes the decision not to fully commit to Rasheed because she still doesn’t believe as a Black man, he will be someone she can trust. Nevertheless, Rasheed finds comfort in getting to know Margaret’s Aunt Sylvia in hopes of becoming closer to her in the future.
The story takes a sad turn when Margaret finds out that someone she loves has passed, but she learns that Rasheed, the person she didn’t want to love and didn’t believe she could trust, is there for her.
Written six years ago during a phase where Nwandu admits that she didn’t like herself, she does a remarkable job focusing on and helping others understand systemic racism.
One critique we have is that we were left wondering what was going to happen with Rasheed and Margaret’s relationship, but that doesn’t take away from this fantastic play.
“Breach” is a very entertaining and witty play that will help you overcome self-hatred and find love from within.
We highly recommend that you check out this play about friendship, motherhood, and family!
The cast includes:
Caren Blackmore (Margaret)
Linda Bright Clay (Aunt Sylvia)
Karen Rodriguez (Carolina)
Al’Jaleel McGhee (Rasheed)
Keith D. Gallagher (Nate).