Sat | Dec 10, 2016

A tumultuous play on an epic scale

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A scene from the National Theatre’s ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’.

The National Theatre's Behind the Beautiful Forevers plays at Palace Cineplex this Sunday.

India is surging with global ambition. But beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport lies a makeshift slum, full of people with plans of their own.

Zehrunisa and her son Abdul aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house. Sunil, 12 and stunted, wants to eat until he's as tall as Kalu the thief. Asha seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a 'first-class person', while her daughter Manju intends to become the slum's first female graduate.

But their schemes are fragile; global recession threatens the garbage trade, and another slum dweller is about to make an accusation that will destroy herself and shatter the neighbourhood.

Katherine Boo spent three years in Annawadi recording the lives of its residents. From her uncompromising book, winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction 2012, David Hare has fashioned a tumultuous play on an epic scale.