Charlie Smith, Pancouver, February 21, 2023
Plays featuring mistaken identities have a glorious history in the theatre. Several of William Shakespeare’s works, including Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night, revolve around this theme. Moreover, the Bard was far from the first to try this. This device dates back to the comedic Athenian playwright Menander in Ancient Greece.
With The Wrong Bashir, B.C. playwright Zahida Rahemtulla is making use of mistaken identity and farcical comedy in a distinctly 21st-century setting. In this upcoming Touchstone Theatre production, she relies on humour to convey changes taking place in the Ismaili Muslim community in Canada.
“By writing a play, I wanted to capture a transitional moment between continents and between generations before it passed,” Rahemtulla tells Pancouver by phone.
The premise of Rahemtulla’s play is that a young philosophy major named Bashir is chosen for a prestigious religious position. His parents are thrilled and say “yes” before Ismaili community leaders have even shown up at his door. When they do appear, some suspect that they’ve given the post to the wrong Bashir.
“The family is confused,” Rahemtulla says. “They think that their son has been chosen.”
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