MY NAME IS…
by Sudha Bhuchar.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 24 May 2014.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 May.
Quietly involving story taken from life.
Three is a low number on which to base any conclusion, but of the characters here, the only one not to have more than one name is the sole male. Pakistani Farhan marries Suzy in Britain and she takes on Muslim identity as Sajida. Their daughter Gaby becomes Ghazala.
Identity and names are important. Gaby’s real-life original moved from Britain to Pakistan eight years ago. Sudhi Bhuchar’s interviews with the three people concerned form most of her script. The question the play raises – or one question – is this matter of identity. ‘Gaby’ was apparently abducted by her brothers and taken to Pakistan. From behind the press accounts, and the news management of an MP, emerged a different story, and a very happy Ghazala.
Unlike her White, Glaswegian mother Suzy, who had found a Muslim modus vivendi ultimately restricting, becoming Ghazala was a joy to Gaby. Happy people don’t have arguments to make; a lot of the time while her parents, he drinking tea in a delicate china cup one side of the stage, she on a sofa the other side, newspaper pages strewn around them, are separately presenting their story to the unseen interviewer, she is sitting happily.
Her main contributions are frank statements about how she feels, or invitations to explore the birds in her garden. For when people looked into the story of the girl behind this drama, they didn’t find an unhappy abducted child, but someone enjoying life.
Bhuchar’s play ends with the parents variously in Pakistan and in Lewis, Outer Hebrides, at the Celtic monument knows as the Callanish Stones. A non-Christian amid a kind Christian community, Suzy finds a sense of belonging, as Gaby does being Ghazala in a warmer climate. It’s this sense, rather than the name or religion attached to it, and the ability to feel comfortable as a person, that matters here.
Philip Osment’s production guides matters gently to this eventual resolution. Umar Ahmed’s calmly certain Farhan and Karen Bartke’s wrought Suzy lose self-control only under outside pressures, while Sonia Sawar brings a simple joy to the pivotal role of their daughter.
Ghazala/Gaby: Kiran Sonia Sawar.
Farhan: Umar Ahmed.
Suzy/Sajida: Karen Bartke.
Director: Philip Osment.
Designer: Miriam Nabarro.
Lighting: Ian Scott.
Sound/Composer: Arun Ghosh.
Dramaturg: Lyn Coghlan.