pilot theatre presents

8 February 2017 – 29 April 2017

Made in India (2017)

"An emotionally charged mix of politics and parenthood."

The Guardian

Above the stage, on three different levels, hang three neon arcs, equal parts of one broken circle. Lydia Denno’s design offers an image both descriptive and symbolic – like so much else in this moving, well-wrought and effectively delivered chamber piece of a play by Satinder Chohan, with dramaturgy by Fin Kennedy. In a surrogacy clinic in Gujarat, three people are united and divided by emotional, professional and economic needs.

Eva (Gina Isaac), newly arrived from the UK, has high hopes, a high-level job in advertising and a strong determination to do things her way, following years of failed IVF treatments. Doctor Gupta (Syreeta Kumar) is cool, competent and in charge of a clinic so in demand from foreign clients that she is now investing in an ambitious expansion programme to meet their needs. Aditi (Ulrika Krishnamurti), the intended surrogate, will earn more in nine months than she could through 10 years’ work in her village.

A dramatically potent situation is given added impetus (and conceptual complexity) when politics disrupt the personal agendas. State elections loom; a ban is introduced on foreigners paying for surrogacy in India. What follows is a revelation of the women’s characters under pressure (brilliantly multifaceted performances from Isaac, Kumar and Krishnamurti), which exposes questions surrounding surrogacy (without offering glib answers) and wider economic issues (a politician’s voiceover attacks the ban, claiming surrogacy allows “produce of India” to make “wealth flow back” to the country), as well as semi-submerged, postcolonial attitudes.

Places are precisely evoked and yet also flow and twine thanks to the combined effects of Prema Mehta’s lighting, Arun Ghosh’s sound design (also original music) and Denno’s multiple screens, on to which are projected Shanaz Gulzar’s video images. Each element enhances the play’s competing tensions between fragmentation and cohesion, opposites tautly balanced by Katie Posner’s fine direction. The whole makes for an intellectually and emotionally stirring encounter. Made in India is at the Belgrade theatre, Coventry until 4 February, and then touring.

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