My Name is…

Sudha Buchar
Northern Stage at Summerhall

Umar Ahmed, Rehanna MacDonald and Karen Bartke

All credit to Sudha Buchar, director Philip Osment and Tamasha for taking on an impossible subject and dealing with it even-handedly.

The tabloids certainly can't manage that and treated the "kidnap" of a Scottish girl called Gaby for a forced marriage that they apparently invented as so heinous as to justify verbal warfare against her father, his religion and his country.

As we learn in 85 taut and at times tearful minutes, there is far more to the story of a 12-year-old who prefers to stay in Pakistan under the name of Ghazala.

The early days of the love between Umar Ahmed’s Farhan and Suzy (later Sajida), superbly portrayed by Karen Bartke, were genuinely as happy as any that the abused 15-year-old had known. For her marriage was a relief, having been turfed out of her home by an uncaring mother.

The marriage went well for many, as Sajida adopted the Muslim religion to become more devout and respectful than her husband and even weathered an almost clichéd mother-in-law.

Sadly, she suffered mental illness, probably not helped by a strict and at times aggressive husband. The consequence was that she left the family home for reasons that differ depending on who is talking.

Farhan took the children to Pakistan, including Rehanna MacDonald as Gaby, remarried and caused a media furore, while Suzy was left to suffer. Who is right? Probably neither party to varying degrees.

My Name is… presents difficult moral and ethical questions in an intelligent manner by focusing on the personal and using testimonies that appear to be verbatim. Its main strength lies in allowing all three characters to speak in their own voices, even where these conflict.

This is an impressively serious contribution to a Fringe that has a tendency to be frivolous whenever the opportunity arises.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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