Made in India

Made in India works on several levels.  On one, it looks at India’s place in the world.  To what extent should India auction off its natural resources to the highest bidder, including its people?  On another, it asks us to consider the issues that affect the daily lives of Indians living in poverty, and how this might be changing.  But it is the third where this production really excels as a piece of theatre, the question that when power, money and emotions collide, who has a right to what?  If one woman pays another to carry her baby, what place is there for emotions?

Tamasha Theatre bring Made in India to Contact as part of a national tour.  Immediately you are drawn into the set, a collection of fabric screens, above which three interlocking neon arcs sit.  Throughout, clever rearrangement creates the scenes, mainly within the surrogacy clinic.  The feel is isolated, cut off, and yet the vibrancy and challenges of India colours the set always.  British businesswoman Eva arrives in Gujarat with her dead husband’s sperm to use a local woman, Aditi, to carry her baby through pregnancy as a surrogate mother.  What exactly can money buy, how can the transaction be justified and how much control can you retain over another human being?

It is the relationship between Eva and Aditi that makes this play so effective.  The clinic’s owner, Dr Gupta, merely acts as the conduit between the two, a transaction representing ‘New India’.  We’re never quite sure about the doctor’s motivations, her values, or her truth, and this clouds the central relationship effectively.  As the play builds to its conclusion we ask ourselves what did each woman expect to gain from the transaction, why did neither see the extent of the risks, and what might they each lose, all in the context of their own local values.

This is a beautiful, gritty and gripping play about both the personal emotions and the wider political issues around surrogacy.  Utterly compelling.

Contact, Manchester 21-22 Feb 2017.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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