On Friday, February 16, 2018, Victory Gardens Theater continued it’s 43rd season with BREACH, by New York based award-winning playwright Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Lisa Portis. BREACH is the story is of a young woman who struggles with loving herself because of her experience as a girl growing up in a household where she continuously heard negative remarks about people who looked like her.
The story opens with Margaret (Caren Blackmore), a young black college educator and her rich white boyfriend Nate (Keith D. Gallagher) celebrating her job promotion. She’s unhappy, because she feels stuck in a dead-end job. She also resents the fact that she has to share her office space with Rasheed (Al’Jaleel McGhee). Aunt Sylvia (Linda Bright Clay), gives the audience an idea why Margaret may feel the way she does. Along comes Carolina (Karen Rodriguez), a young woman who challenges Margaret. They seem forge a friendship that gives them both a sense of purpose.
In this story, playwright Antoinette Nwandu paints a portrait of a woman who emulates a persona of what society considers ideal. I feel that she tried to shed light on why some African-American women tend to feel they have to wear long hair weaves or process their hair, but failed to connect the pieces. I also took from the story that there are some who date outside of their race because of negative stereotypes and the illusion that dating someone of a different race will somehow enhance their lives.
Although I did get the gist of it all, I felt that the storyline needed a bit more development. I didn’t get the feeling that Margaret ever changed how she felt about her situation, however implied through Margaret’s transformation from wearing the silky long hair weave to embracing her natural hair texture. It seemed that she just decided to play with the cards that life had dealt her. I wish the playwright had included a moment where Margaret had what Oprah Winfrey would call an “AH HA!” moment that indicated that she had resolved her issues.
The dialogue seems to go on, yet it doesn’t have a message. In my opinion, the writer tried to tell too much of the story without giving the audience the opportunity to take in all that she was trying to say. Also I felt the N word was overly used and a few audience members made remarks about the use. I understand why some people cringe within a diverse crowd due to the current social climate, but I get that the playwright was trying to explain why some people say or behave the way they do.
The acting is mediocre for the most part. The lines seemed rushed and stiff at moments. I really enjoyed the acting of Linda Bright Clay who portrays Aunt Sylvia. She was funny and made the show enjoyable. BREACH was just okay. If I had to rate it, I’d give it 2 stars. Purchase tickets at Victory Gardens Theater box office, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago or visit the victorygardens website.
Photos by Michael Brosilow