It has been a long while since a play at the theatre has really surprised or has had me gripped to the point where i wanted to dive into the narrative and find out more. ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ did just this to me and left me desperate to find out more as the story unfolded.
The play tells the story of Zehrunisha and her family who run a rubbish recycling business in the poor slums in Mumbai, in the hope that they can recycle enough to fund a proper house. Sunil, a street boy, is desperate to make something of himself and wants to follow in the footsteps of Kallu, a well to do theif. Asha is stealing government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a someone of higher societal standing whilst making her daughter Manju, the slum’s first graduate. Each of the characters have a story to tell against their bleak landscape of a garbage recycling plant and the ever growing global recession.
Despite the play being based on a book by Katherine Boo, each of the character’s stories are bought to life so vividly on stage. You do end up forgetting that you are just watching a play as the characters are so well acted. Meera Syal is brilliant as the free swearing mother Zehrunisha who runs her household and her business with a tight fist. Manju played by Anjana Vasan is such a wholesome minded character who struggles to differentiate between Congreve and Virginia Woolf and struggles to comes to terms with her mother’s ways of earning a living.
The real star of the play is Abdul played by Shane Zaza who is desperate to see the good in people and wants to lead a life of honesty in a world which is corrupt around him. The play tells the tale of these characters with a lot of heart and tries to find goodness in each of the characters despite their devious ways of earning a living.
See here for more information about buying tickets, it is a great watch!