Review: “Me and You” an immigrant’s song of identity and integration

Kathleen Stavert & Mirian Katrib in ME AND YOU. Photo Credit: Maxime Côté

Talisman Theatre, renowned in Montreal for producing anglophone adaptations of contemporary Québécois theatrical works, opens the dialogue on multiculturalism once again with the highly anticipated English premiere of Me and You at the MAI from May 18th to 21st.

Who am I? What am I? Where is “home”? When the bearer of a one-way ticket is met by these complex questions of identity and belonging, answers riddled by conflict and confusion will never again be foreign.

Written by Talia Hallmona and Pascal Brullemans, whose original French script of Moi et l’Autre was awarded the Louise-LaHaye playwriting prize, Me And You (here translated by Alison Bowie) is a gripping story of sociocultural adaptation, alienation, and integration told from two converging lens. Under the direction of Arianna Bardesono, this humorous yet profoundly thought-provoking play reflects on what it means to be Québécois and Canadian.

Talia (Katrib) and Julie (Stavert), who notes: “To be Québécois, is to complain about the winter, the rest of Canada, and the Habs coach…”

Talia, a first generation Egyptian immigrant with an Italian mother and, perplexingly, a Greek name (Mirian Katrib is stellar in her befitting portrayal of the earnest young foreigner), recounts her childhood memories of her arrival in Canada. Landing in Laval, she is met and befriended by the cool Québécoise Julie Sirois (also brilliantly played by a compelling Kathleen Stavert), who wilfully takes Talia under her wing as she guides and directs the newcomer on everything from local dating etiquette to the unwritten rules of Western living.

Fascinated by the ways of her thoroughly modern mentor and intrigued by the concept of the unfamiliar “other”, Talia embarks on a journey of self-(re)discovery and transformation. Met with the fear and guilt of cold-shouldering tradition and heritage, however, she is as hesitant as she is keen to depart from her inherited DNA; deeply buried cultural roots, it seems, prove difficult to completely detach and free oneself from. Even with the motivation of the opportunity to fulfill her American dreams and reinvent herself, Talia is confronted with every outsider’s eventual existential crisis: where do you belong if you are discernibly, physically here but emotionally torn between elsewheres?

With Julie’s sudden and tragic passing, Talia — in denial of the incident — is determined to change the course of her destiny by entrusting her best friend with her role as narrator of her story. What happens when “me and you” clash is but a multicultural melting pot and an eruption of dissonant ideologies.

Photo Credit: Maxime Côté
Kathleen Stavert and Mirian Katriv star as the dynamic duo Julie and Talia. Design team Lyne Paquette (Set Design), Fruzsina Lanyi (Costumes), David Alexandre Chabot (Lighting), and Jesse Ash (Sound) bring the powerhouse performances to life in a playground of dimension, colour, sound, music, texture, and movement. Photo Credit: Maxime Côté

With a universally relatable and relevant storyline for Montrealers, “Me and You” pulls at the heartstrings with its timeless themes of belonging, acceptance, and connection. This poignant production from the Talisman Theatre company plays a short run at the MAI – Montréal, arts interculturels, 3680, rue Jeanne-Mance, bureau 103 until Saturday, May 21st. Tickets are $23.50 – $28.50 and can be purchased online or by contacting the box office at (514) 982-3386.

Me and You

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