A Girl Recovering From Self-Hate Seeking To Find Love Within
There is an adage that states one must learn to love yourself first to love someone else, but what happens if you are the one plagued with so much self-hatred you don't even know what love is. 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 their race and become delusional to the absolute truth of what their 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-hate. Her dynamic storytelling proceeds her stellar work in Pass Over, a mashup of Waiting for Godot 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 shining trinkets, is a workaholic that 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 that has climbed his way out from his past to become department head; who just so happen to be Margaret's new boss. Rasheed and Margaret's relationship start 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 expecting his child. Rasheed is a man she never even considered giving the time of day due to the entire stereotypical manifesto in her life that she has grown accustomed to regarding black men.
Director Lisa Portes engaged us with this profound content on self-hatred and how it can affect one's life on how they view themselves and others. 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 a right mixture that helped deflect from Margaret's self-hate.
With the help of Carolina and Sylvia, we ultimately get a chance to see a gradual change of Margaret. Her change could be seen during one scene where she wore the over the top wig to look more attractive and acceptable in the professional world to where the wig was gone. Margaret finally seems to have embraced her natural coils of hair and learned what was important in life. Note the hair is symbolic in Margaret's self-discovery of learning how to love yourself indefinitely.
After telling Nate about her pregnancy and who the father is Margaret realizes that no matter how good Nate looked on paper, and the tremendous financial future he could offer her, he was never going to cure her feelings of self-hate and the fact that they were 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 something 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 can trust is there. In the end, Margaret was learning to come to grips with loving herself and becoming a better person before her child was born.
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 rebuff we came away with was the unfortunate ending where 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 this play out 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).
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
Filed under: ChicagoNow