Based on the media scandal of ‘tug-of-love’ schoolgirl Molly Campbell, this pared-back and beautifully agenda-free production unravels like a bittersweet love letter to the everyday pain of broken families, difficult choices and unforeseen repercussions.
My Name Is… uses as its source material a selection of interviews conducted with Molly and her parents (here renamed as Gaby/Ghazala, Suzy and Farhan respectively) back in 2008, as the family attempted to pick up the pieces of a very public break-up. Never off-stage, the actors deliver Sudha Bhuchar’s verbatim script with sensitivity and unforced emotion, flitting with ease between reminiscences of their early life together and the media fallout that would occur years later. The resulting effect feels like an animated group interview taking place in a cosy living room; intimate, immediate and heart-wrenching.
Karen Bartke as Suzy is particularly engaging. She gives a wonderfully expressive and naturalistic performance, able to play a smitten yet damaged teenager and worn-down tabloid target with equal sensitivity. Umar Ahmed as Farhan is an initially blunt presence, but in his early memories with Suzy we see the wicked fun of a relationship that gives way too soon to tense issues of family and religion. Maybe fittingly, Kiran Sonia Sawar as Gaby/Ghazala has the least speaking time, but she is wonderfully buoyant in her role, embodying perfectly the true heart of the story – a young girl making a hugely painful decision.
Miriam Nabarro’s set functions well, keeping the dialogue and performances centre-stage: a small set-up of two living rooms – a Glasgow flat and a Pakistani apartment – is backed by a wall clothed in the sensational newspaper headlines that rocked this cobbled-together family. Minute changes, such as flashing lights imitating press cameras behind the windows, are hugely effective. Similarly, Philip Osment’s direction is beautifully understated. The parental actors slip in and out of each other’s spaces, re-enacting their tale with almost dreamlike movements, as Sawar’s Ghazala carries on her everyday life around them.
Gracefully staged and saturated with real love, My Name Is… is easily one of the best new plays in Scotland this year.