Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE BREACH, Hampstead Theatre

An emotional rollercoaster

Review: THE BREACH, Hampstead Theatre Review: THE BREACH, Hampstead Theatre Naomi Wallace's The Breach is the first in a trilogy of plays about different communities in Kentucky. Receiving its UK premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, Wallace's play focuses on four teenagers who live in Louisville, Kentucky - siblings Jude (Shannon Tarbet) and Acton (Stanley Morgan) and Acton's friends Hoke (Alfie Jones) and Frayne (Charlie Beck).

Jude is the eldest at 17 and is doing all she can to help the family financially. They've been struggling ever since their father died in an accident at a building site owned by Hoke's family. Their mother is working two jobs, but some days she's too tired to even get out of the bath.

Hoke's family, in contrast, are wealthy - he doesn't have to worry about helping his parents pay the bills. He's revered by his two friends; they look up to him and in turn he promises to look out for them when they're adults by getting them jobs at his dad's company.

While Jude is popular at school, Acton is bullied by his peers and he relies on Hoke and Frayne for protection.

The friends decide to use the Digg's basement as their base; the set is bare, dark and grey. It's here that the three boys form a 'brotherhood' and make a pact to demonstrate their love for each other. Each one escalates, resulting in a carefully timed 15-minute assault which changes each of their lives.

Throughout the production we travel in time, jumping between 1977 to 1991. When we leap forward 14 years Acton is nowhere to be seen, and it's Jude (Jasmine Blackborow) who confronts Frayne (Douggie McMeekin) and Hoke (Tom Lewis) about what happened all those years ago.

It's an emotional rollercoaster, exploring politics, consent, the bond between family and friends and the impact the Big Pharma industry has had on ordinary Americans. Naomi Dawson's bare set ensures that the audience's attention remains on the characters throughout and Rick Fisher's lighting is cleverly used to show the jump in time.

There are some moments that are extremely difficult to watch, particularly the often casual discussions about sexual assault and rape. But ultimately this is an impactful piece on consent, toxic masculinity and the class divide.

The Breach at Hampstead Theatre until 4 June.

Photo credit: Johan Persson

MacGyver Contest

Related Articles View More UK / West End Stories

From This Author - Laura Jones

Laura Jones is a huge fan of theatre and sees as many productions she can cram into her schedule. Formerly a film critic, she now writes for several websites acting as Deputy Theatre Editor for Be... (read more about this author)

BWW Review: THE BREACH, Hampstead Theatre
May 14, 2022

Naomi Wallace’s The Breach is the first in a trilogy of plays about different communities in Kentucky. Receiving its UK premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, Wallace’s play focuses on four teenagers who live in Louisville, Kentucky – siblings Jude (Shannon Tarbet) and Acton (Stanley Morgan) and Acton’s friends Hoke (Alfie Jones) and Frayne (Charlie Beck).

BWW Review: THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
March 3, 2022

The Merchant of Venice is vastly considered to be Shakespeare’s most controversial and problematic play and director Abigail Graham does not shy away from the tough antisemitic and racist themes covered in the bard’s text.

BWW Interview: Jamie Morton Explains How MY DAD WROTE A PORNO Went from Podcast to Stage Show
November 11, 2020

Earlier this year Jamie Morton, co-creator of popular podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, was touring North America when the live shows were shut down due to COVID-19. Outside of the podcast world, Morton also co-runs a musical comedy cabaret night in London called Round to Rita’s.

BWW Review: IAN ASHPITEL AND JONTY STEPHENS AS ERIC AND ERN, Richmond Theatre
February 28, 2020

Morecambe and Wise have been a part of my life since childhood. I've spent countless hours sat watching their shows, looking up their sketches on YouTube and always making sure to watch any documentaries. I've always felt disappointed that I never got to see my favourite comedians live on stage.

BWW Review: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
February 7, 2020

The Taming of the Shrew is arguably one of Shakespeare's most controversial comedies. In Maria Gaitandi's production, designer Liam Bunster has helped to transform the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with raised platforms and ladders, with the cast using them constantly throughout. Although you occasionally lose sight of the performers as they climb onto the various platforms, it makes the production unique from anything else I've seen in the space.