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Ray and Michael Cooney’s Tom, Dick and Harry in Pakistan: The politics of mistaken identities

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Abstract:

The British farcical playwright Ray Cooney is proving to be a popular writer in Pakistan’s English theatre repertoire, where his plays have featured almost annually since 2007. Shah Sharahbeel’s adaptation of Ray and Michael Cooney’s Tom, Dick and Harry (2005) that was staged in Lahore and Islamabad in 2009, with its interpolation of Punjabi language and culture, signalled an exciting departure from the West End and Broadway replicas that have, since 2002, come to occupy a central place in Pakistan’s commercial theatre. I explore how the Cooneys’ mise-enscène of identity slippage and masquerade transposes in the Pakistani adaptation, to produce a dramatic tension between ‘the self’ and ‘the other’, whereby English characters are fetishized and ethnic Punjabis are alienated. I question the sources of power derived from these acts of mistaken identity, and the politics that control them.

Keywords: Pakistan; Punjabi language; Ray Cooney; mimesis; mistaken identity; neo-colonialism; ‘othering’

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/cost.2.1.47_1

Affiliations: Beaconhouse National University

Publication date: April 20, 2011

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  • Comedy Studies covers multiple aspects of comedy, with articles about both contemporary and historical comedy, interviews with practicing comedians and writers, reviews, letters and editorials. The journal seeks to be instrumental in creating interdisciplinary discourse about the nature and practice of comedy, providing a forum for the disparate voices of comedians, academics and writers.
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