What’s in a name? Well, more than you’d think. For a teenage girl torn between parents, between nations, between religions, the gulf between “Gaby” and “Ghazala” is vast. And that’s what Tamasha’s verbatim show draws out: distance and proximity, identity and difference.
Writer Sudha Bhuchar was fascinated by the story of Molly/Misbah Campbell, supposedly abducted to Pakistan by her father but really the victim of nothing more than a splintering family. Back in 2006, that family was caught up in a ferocious media storm. My Name is… tries to get behind the headlines. It takes the words of Molly/Misbah—here Gaby/Ghazala—and her estranged parents, threading them into a shared but conflicting narrative.
Beneath the sensationalism, we hear the story of an ordinary romance subjected to the immense pressure of two colliding cultures. Meeting in Glasgow in the 1980s, Farhan and Suzy are barely more than kids when they have to start defending their love. Suzy becomes Sajida, converts to Islam, starts wearing a hijab. But the stress of becoming someone else soon creates cracks.
In Philip Osment’s quiet staging, mother, father and child all share the same space, moving closer together and further apart as their narratives overlap, intertwine and contradict one another. It can be a little inert at times, but the sad complication of these true stories drives the show forwards. What the headlines can’t grasp —and what Tamasha respectfully conveys—is that there are no heroes and villains here, only people making impossible choices.