My Name is….tells the real story of Molly Campbell, who hit headlines in 2006 after running away to Pakistan to live with her father. Initially Molly was thought to have been abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan. Days later, a happy Molly was seen in Pakistan declaring her name is Misbah and that she chose to come and live with her father in Lahore.Sudha Bhuchar’s latest production starts at the beginning and unpicks a moving tale of how the couple met in the 80’s, fell in love, married, had children and saw the eventual breakdown of their marriage. A sofa, a chair and a rug make up the set and three actors play the roles of Gaby as Molly, Suzy and Farhan as Louise and Sajad. The verbatim play makes use of the interviews Bhuchar recorded in 2008 and means we hear the family’s accounts in their own words. English interspersed with Urdu adds rhythm, while instances of the actors talking at the same time and reference to those infamous media headlines exemplifies the complexities of the conflict.
There is so much at the heart of this play that it is inevitable that there are loose threads, things which by the end of eighty minutes, aren’t resolved but Bhuchar’s balanced attempt shines through. Suzy’s shift from Suzy to Saajida is a sympathetic look at conversion to Islam, and explores the heartbreak of doing something out of love only to find out it doesn’t make you happy. Karen Bartke is outstanding as Suzy, a woman who has lost everything, her faith and her children. Kiran Sonia Sawar’s sweet and naïve Gaby brings out the innocence of a child who is oblivious to the conflict and heartbreak around her. Umar Ahmed’s calm and casual Farhan is simply a man doing right by his family.
An eye opening production.
Three and a half stars.
My Name is… is on at the Curve, Leicester until September 30, after which it continues its UK tour til October 11.
Writer: Sudha Bhuchar
Director: Philip Osmet
Cast: Kiran Sonia Sawar, Umar Ahmed, Karen Bartke