One-person shows are hard, for the performer and for the audience. For the performer, its difficulties are obvious: you are flying solo without a net or a parachute. For the audience, well personally, I have always liked interaction. I would interrupt a professor’s lecture with a question not just for the clarification, but to alter the flow, to gain some dialogue, to keep my mind alert. The alternative was sleep.
Qurrat Ann Kadwani’s one-woman show, They Call Me Q, I am happy to report is not really a one-woman show, because Qurrat Ann Kadwani is not really a single person. She is actually a collection of folk, and depending on when and where you might meet her, be prepared to experience the difference.
They Call Me Q reveals the journey of that multiplicity, and rarely will you encounter a performer who is so versatile in her many faces, yet so comfortable within her own skin.
Ms. Kadwani begins They Call Me Q at the beginning, literally, with the newborn looking above into smiling faces and being anointed with that unique Indian name “Qurrat.” After her family moves to the Bronx, the show’s story takes off, which is a story not about being accepted by Americans, but about being accepted by herself.
Directed by Obaid Kadwani and Claudia Gaspar, They Call Me Q offers audiences over the course of its 60-minutes, the various people that “Q” encountered over the years who have played a pivotal role in her awareness. We meet Mummi, her mother, who constantly instructs her on how to win a husband. We meet Catherine, the elementary school classmate who got her punched in the lip. We meet Beenie her high school debate partner who introduced her to clubbing and personal loss. We meet Rayya, her wealthy Indian friend, who now waits within her “castle walls” for her husband, looking enviously at Q’s now independent life.
…a performer who is so versatile in her many faces, yet so comfortable within her own skin.
Ms. Kadwani narrates her tale with purpose and a compelling intimacy, playing each of these people as each engages in conversation with Q herself at some crucial moment in her life. This technique lends the encounters the aura of dialogue and immediacy and allows us to experience in the face of the different characters a little bit of Q herself.
It is that fascinating ambiguity of identity that gives They Call Me Q its unique power, for the person we meet on the stage is not just Qurrat Ann Kadwani, but the wondrous combination of the many significant others she has known in her life.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
They Call Me Q has completed its run at the Capital Fringe, but you can catch this unique and powerful show at this year’s New York Fringe in August. For info click here.