“Striking, thought-provoking and immensely entertaining”
Plays based around well-known news stories are always a thorny matter. Based on the headline story from 2006, “My Name is…” tells of a family torn apart, and the struggles of identity which come from broken marriages. It would have been very easy for this play to take sides, especially given the venue, but what results is one of the most nuanced, balanced plays I’ve ever seen. “My Name Is…” considers the problems of split cultural identity and family dissonance with such multi-angled consideration that it wouldn’t look out of place in an academic study. This is a show which is as compelling as it is thought provoking, and one of the few which left me feeling humbled after it had ended.
Telling a story from two distinct perspectives, “My Name Is…” tackles the problems both with the skewing of information by the media and the apparent schism between secular European and Islamic standards of living – and, as easy as it could have been to the contrary, giving both an equal share of good and bad. This is a measured, well thought out production – one which mimics reality far better than the news reports upon which is is based. Sudha Bhuchar has created a script which simultaneously pulls no punches and leaves no stone unturned, telling an already intriguing story from every angle possible.
But the show would have been nothing without its extremely talented trio of actors. Ahmed, Bartke and MacDonald should all be commended for their performances, which reflected such realism and subtlety that I often forgot I was watching a play at all. Their emotions, their physicality, their delivery – all of it was so raw, and laid claim to such substance, that they not only acted the part, they became the part. These are undeniably talented performers, and they should all be proud of what they accomplished on the small Summerhall stage.
Combined with a cleverly put-together set, minimal-yet-effective lighting and a script which weaves multiple dialogues together like a verbal dance, “My Name Is…” was one of the most striking, thought-provoking and immensely entertaining shows I’ve seen at Fringe yet. This is one of those rare productions I wish everyone could see: one which approaches polarising subjects with sensitivity, nuance and tact, whilst retaining a thrilling degree of entertainment.
Absolutely bloody excellent.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 13 August)
Visit the Summerhall archive.