Review of Me, in the Red Ruins… | Small and big story to move us

Reality exceeds fiction. The formula has been used so much that it is worn out, but no other is more appropriate to describe the magnificent spectacle Me, in the red ruins of the centurytaken over by Duceppe after an 11-year hiatus.

Indeed, this play written and directed by Olivier Kemeid tells the extraordinary life of Quebec actor of Ukrainian origin Sasha Samar. Kidnapped by his father at the age of 3, he made the search for his mother one of the main quests of his youth. However, finding someone in the USSR is not easy when you are not from the KGB…

Having as its main backdrop the last years of the USSR before the arrival of perestroika and the accession to independence of Ukraine, this production is carried at arm’s length by Sasha Samar himself. This actor has the caliber of the greatest and he is far too rare on our stages and our screens. This play (first presented at the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui in 2013) proves it beyond any doubt.

The 56-year-old actor manages here to embody the joys of early childhood, the admiration of a kid for his father and the despair felt in the absence of the one who gave birth to him. His still youthful eyes light up with childish joy only to later be adorned with tears at the injustice of his fate. The actor is in every scene and he manages to capture our gaze at all times.

Around him revolve six performers, sometimes moving, sometimes funny. Jean Maheux does very well in the role of the authoritarian but loving father, who wants his son to succeed where he failed. The mother is played with great tenderness by Marie-France Lambert. Geoffrey Gaquère is hilarious as the actor impersonating Lenin. As for Sophie Cadieux, she is a bit overexcited (and unnecessarily shrill) when she takes on the role of Ludmilla, Sasha’s very intense lover. Nothing that will not be able to be replaced over the course of the representations…

Olivier Kemeid has chosen this time to add two new actors to the cast, Peter Meltev and Aliona Munteanu. The latter notably participate in a scene sung to the glory of Ukraine, a scene which takes on particular resonance as the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict enters its third year.

Two facets


On the kitchen side, Jean Maheux and Marie-France Lambert play Sasha’s parents.

The director also chose to divide the immense stage of the Théâtre Duceppe into two distinct sections: the kitchen side and the living room side, like two facets of the same decor with very Soviet deprivation. It is difficult to see how Olivier Kemeid could have done better, but nonetheless: the characters in the midst of an inner crisis seem lost in this overly vast space which is often unrewarding for plays with intimate themes, written and performed at eye level.

Fortunately, the strong emotion that grips Sasha Samar still manages to move from the stage to the room. And it is in a silence where one would hear a pin drop that Me, in the red ruins of the century end.

Because its main actor moves us and delights us, because this text is terribly well written and because Ukraine needs to be (re)discovered other than through this war which makes the headlines, this show is a must see .

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Me, in the red ruins of the century

Me, in the red ruins of the century

Text and direction by Olivier Kemeid. With Sasha Samar, Jean Maheux, Marie-France Lambert, Geoffrey Gaquère and Sophie Cadieux.

Duceppe TheaterUntil March 30



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