Qurrat Ann Kadwani's one-woman turn in "They Call Me Q" is nothing if not personal. The story is the woman's own. It is confessional (but not graphic); it is honest (but not squirm-inducing). The thrust of it brings to mind Carson McCullers' Frankie, endlessly wrestling with her elusive identity -- or it does if Frankie is imagined as a young Indian woman growing up in the Bronx. Kadwani's "we of me" is the assortment of people in her life who have shaped her varying notions of herself, and you listen and watch, and you quite strangely develop a sense of yourself as an Indian girl with fiercely Indian parents tugging on one arm and the youthful extremes, or extremes of Bronx youth, alternately pulling on the other or slugging you in the kisser. This is something, for those of us non-Indian and non-Bronx.
Ms. Kadwani, it must be said, relies on her audience's readiness to engage, as it were. She trusts to being liked enough to command attention -- this is a thing you feel. But the trust is not misplaced. Kadwani's loveliness, non-brash confidence, genial reflections on people in her past not at all genial, and seemingly effortless slipping-intos of other personas combine to weave a real, intimate, and surprisingly touching tale. By the time Kadwani - or Q, to join in with the chorus of her life - returns from a visit to India, you are indeed as one with her, and the ambiguities of your own life are suddenly less distressing. It is not exactly an epiphany. But it is rewarding on a life-size scale, and the only real frustration is Q's failure to share one of her mother's better recipes.