Rufus Norris lifts the lid on the slums of Mumbai revealing all too many worms.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers review

Behind the Beautiful Forevers


I had to submit a review to a theatre organisation (I won’t say who, in case I won’t get it) as part of a selection process, so just thought I’d post it on here too. Enjoy!

Behind the Beautiful Forevers at the National theatre left nothing to the imagination with its meticulous design of an ‘Anawadi’ city. Capturing the daily grind of surviving scavenger in Mumbai, David Hare captures many stories, true to the subcontinent in the stage play version of Katherine Boo’s non fiction book. Hare cleverly saw potential to draw parallels between interwoven characters and a world of corruption and extreme poverty. The plays’ weakness for covering too many stories leaves confusion and a lack of enthusiasm for characters. Even though its main focus lies between the violent dispute between a disabled feisty prostitute and a neighbouring Muslim Family, we still see an assortment of autobiographical narratives. From an expert trash picker, whose skills bring in the family income to a couple of girls dreaming of a better future whilst talking through toilet doors. But it’s themes of corruption, committed by the most honest of people, covers the universal human condition we need to understand.

Norris’ ability to effortlessly counter layer interwoven stories, in films like Broken, did not transition in the same vigour and its lack of authentic language occasionally leaves for more to be desired. Nonetheless the play shines a light on Mumbai’s invisible poor without making it drip in stereotypical colour. Full marks for delivery but poor effort on execution.



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