THEATRE REVIEW: Made In India
Belgrade B2, Coventry, until February 4.
This powerful play seems to focus on the theme of using women in the developing world as surrogates, but that is only one of the issues it covers in an intense 80 minutes. Made in India, by Satinder Chohan, features just three female characters, each with her own interest in creating a new life. But then the Indian government seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, leaving the women to fight for the same thing, but for different reasons. At times they grab our sympathies, at others they reveal their selfishness. English widow Eva, played by Gina Isaac, on edge and nervy, is desperate for a surrogate to carry a baby that is genetically hers and her deceased husband’s. She talks of "us" being pregnant, and cares for the surrogate only because of what she’s carrying - although her own past means we can’t hate her. Aditi is a poor young widow from a village who wants to earn money to bring up her two daughters, and is sorry for the seemingly rich woman "cursed" by having no children. She is played convincingly by Ulrika Krishnamurti as the innocent surrogate who becomes increasingly knowledgeable about both her power and vulnerability.
Doctor Gupta who runs the clinic, is the least sympathetic, played with droll humour and cynicism by Syreeta Kumar, but even she represents a view of the new modern India, declaring she has been praised as a feminist entrepreneur. The three perform against a simple but effective set of medical and domestic screens, video projections and atmospheric Indian-influenced sounds. Taking in feelings of ownership, money and power, women’s rights over their bodies and how India wants to develop, this is a very well-written, and strongly acted play, well worth seeing.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF MADE IN INDIA?
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Jane Barker, Coventry: It's not exactly light entertainment...you come out of the theatre feeling totally overwhelmed by 80 minutes of superb acting and tense dialogue in a drama that tackles issues on so many levels. On the surface it's a play about surrogacy but it's interwoven with corruption and exploitation on the one hand, and humanity and hope on the other. Gina Isaac is superb as the assertive yet brittle Eva seeking a surrogate to enable her to have a baby using her dead husband’s sperm. Syreeta Kumar, as Dr Gupta manages to combine modern science with Indian politics – and nothing is as it seems. The surrogate mother, a widow with two little girls to support, played by Ulrika Krishnamurti, manages to be both vulnerable and strong.
So many questions, so many issues, but definitely a must-see production.