Chantria Tram’s Someone Between accomplishes an impressive feat for a one-woman show – it seizes its audience’s attention and refuses to let go. Someone Between recounts the struggles and triumphs of Tram’s journey from Cambodia to Canada. She shares some of the defining moments in her life; teetering on the edge of what is to be expected of her as the perfect Cambodian daughter and the urge to assimilate herself deep within Canadian culture.
Tram, all five feet of her, delivers a strong performance despite making a few mistakes mid-speech. While she embodies the character of her mother with precision, the accent she uses falters rather frequently throughout the portrayal, fading out before the character transforms back. Still, it isn’t enough to spoil her mother’s character, which remains thoroughly enjoyable throughout. A pivotal point in the play is a chilling portray of a car accident that brings Tram and her mother closer together. Tram uses the accident to explain the difficult relationship she has with her overbearing mother. Throughout, she uses incidents such as the car crash and the death of her younger sister to give her story emotional grounding.
The stage itself is left almost bare, only decorated by large pieces of hanging red and orange cloth and and a pile of cloths at the centre of the stage, with bamboo shoots sticking out from the back of the stage. Tram uses the cloth throughout the story, using it to entangle herself within the material, forming a bridesmaid dress, or throwing a beige sheet over her head and pretending to be a Barbie doll, with hilarious effect. The cloth also serves as an important symbol, as it is one of Cambodia’s main exports.
The play is well paced and brilliantly pieced together using subtle transitions and the slightest breaks in movement to move the action into another time and place. The excellent soundtrack helps to transports the audience to diverse locations such as a remote jungle on the Cambodian/Thailand border or a Khmer temple in Toronto.
While Tram, who wrote the play, tells her own story, the play’s director, Milena Buziak believes others can relate to it: “This may be one woman’s journey, but it is a struggle shared by all of us.”
Someone Between is a wonderful experience. It’s hard not to fall in love with Tram and relate in some way or another to what she’s been through.
Someone Between finishes its run on Jan. 13,16, 17. Visit centaurtheatre.com for show times. Tickets are $10 for students, $12.50 for adults