Monday, 21 January 2013

La reine du slam!

Elle est la douleur, la chaleur, le malheur, la douceur même.

She is pain, warmth, doom, sweetness itself.

She is Queen Ka.

Elkahna Talbi first came to my attention when she played the role of Maha in the play II - Deux which premiered at Le Théâtre de la vieille 17 last year.  She was cast as a forty-ish Muslim immigrant who had married a Canadian cop, a man older than her by a decade or so.

She looked and sounded impeccable in that role - luminous, really.  She conquered the audience with her capacity for expressing the complexity of emotions that a woman would feel, given the precarious conditions that assailed Maha.  (The Saskatchewan playwright Mansel Robinson's play was translated by Jean-Marc Dalpé.)

Last Friday the Fourth Stage of the NAC welcomed her back to Ottawa, in a dynamic one-woman performance of spoken word. It was an absolutely fabulous event.

Incandescent, as Queen Ka can be when she melds poetry and movement, accompanied by edgy live electronic music. Imagine Philip Glass anti-melody, mashed up with a politically judicious and vivacious Maghrebian fireball who takes no prisoners.  Unless you surrender yourself to the verb and flow of her words.

If Newfoundlander motor-mouth Rick Mercer were an ebullient second-generation Tunisian-Canadian slam poet, he would be Queen Ka.

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