Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Based on verbatim interviews of a family involved in a kidnapping – a father from Pakistan and a mother from Scotland face issues as they raise their daughter.
This verbatim play tells the story about a real family – a mother from Scotland and father from Pakistan whose child was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan several years ago. This event was widely covered by the media and brought up racial tensions. The author, Sudha Bhuchar conducted interviews with the three members of the family a few years after the fact so the dialogue is very real and raw – she calls the daughter Gabi in the play. What is interesting from the dialogue is how the characters understand what happened although tensions were very high at the beginning and affected each member of the family differently.
Set in the living room of the father and mother, the play enacts conversations from each family member, with flashbacks showing scenes of the family years before the event. This forms a full picture of the family, especially the parents who are from different religions, cultures and countries. Suzi, the wife, changes religion when she marries Farhan and suddenly the expectations of being Farhan’s wife drastically changed. Gabi was born and after a few years the priorities of the parents changed, too, causing serious issues.
Karen Bartke is astoundingly real in her emotional arc of Suzi, the mother and wife. Bartke’s instinctive acting range goes from restrained, matter of fact, sad, heartfelt, despondent, enraged, breakdown to warm and happy. She is the anchor of this piece and watching her is nothing less than experiencing a totally immersed character study. Farhan, played by Umar Ahmed is fascinating, more even keeled and completely believable as the father and husband, with a consistent accent, a logical way of thinking and a wonderful presence. Rehanna MacDonald’s Gabi is compelling, sweet, naïve and sensible as she gets older. All three actors are excellent and form an authentic family as they address the audience directly.
A comfy living room set becomes more than one place and the interesting back drop curtain with news headlines of the story adds another dimension to the seriousness of the questions asked in this play. This is thought provoking play to be seen. Although we have heard these questions before, it doesn’t hurt to hear them again, from different points of view – and with such a well-crafted text from the source – it is a beautifully well-acted, human and moving play.