Over the years, I have often been delighted by Geordie Productions and this time I had an extra reason for being beguiled by a production. Jabber (by Marcus Youssef, directed Amanda Kellock) is all about the push and pull of the first generation of Canadians, in this case a young Egyptian girl beautifully played by Mariana Taylor, as she tries to appease her parents, and somehow fit into a new school environment. I was born in a refugee camp and arrived as a child in 1950s Montreal. I was blond and spoke only German, and my older brother took me to a boxing gym because he got tired of defending me from… everyone!
The play Jabber treats this theme as well as the hazards and pitfalls of adolescence. Fatima is moved from a high school where she has made friends to a new school where she knows no one. She meets Jorah, a young student who seems to wear several different chips on his shoulder and was played with great energy and intelligence by Aris Tyros. David Sklar was very convincing as the guidance counsellor.
They do interact in unique and even humorous ways, and even though Jorah has his own challenges and horrors to deal with, both these personae are written with so much subtlety that the audience learns at the very least, how young Canadians must cope with the reality of our many differences. I can remember when my friends were living with one foot in Canada and another in Europe, the Middle East, or Latin America. Feeling as though they were neither one nor the other, it is a huge life challenge to change language, culture, and community. This play shows that it may be even more alienating and difficult for adolescence.
Amanda Kellock managed to direct this with a seasoned hand and perfect pitch. She allowed just the right pauses and backtracking for the adolescence of the characters to be believable. James Lavoie’s set was terrific and the costumes were perfect. Ana Capelluto added her magic lighting to make the scenes reach even more nuanced drama. Marcus Yousef is a playwright of great stature and he managed to deliver a script that is light handed even when dealing with the horrors of abuse and racism.
Jabber is in rep with two others, Water Weight and Instant. See it until March 26 at Monument-National’s Studio Hydro-Québec (1182 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal) TICKETS: $13.50 children; $15.00 teens; $17.50 students/seniors; $19.50 adults; prices subject to taxes | Group rate (10 or more): 20% Off. 75 minutes. BOX OFFICE and INFORMATION: (514) 845-9810 or www.geordie.ca