Reviewed by Janis Kirshner
Writer/actor Margarita Romero, as Ana Martinez, starts from behind the audience, “Can you see me?”… “How about now?” We wonder, who is this woman and where is this story going? That’s a good thing. Romero, as Ana the waitress, is likeable and we want to listen to her. We learn she played the piano as a child, was a cultural journalist in Peru, had a loving marriage to Miguel, has a daughter.
I'm Still Here is based on Romero’s interviews with five Montreal women who immigrated to Canada and some of the things they dealt with including discrimination (restaurant patrons telling one, “Your orange skin-colour is really cute.”) and unfulfilling, exhausting jobs. She herself had a stint on a cruise ship, like in the show.
There’s a good flow to the script heightened by Deanna Dobie’s firm direction and impeccable transitions between scenes. Romero has some less-than-honest moments and her character differentiation could be sharper so that the various other characters are more clearly defined, but she is also genuine and moving, especially in the scene with her newborn daughter. We want to welcome her when she says, “Canada is a nice place to start over," and who doesn’t like to root for a survivor? “It’s difficult to remember who I was, on the other hand, I’m still here.”