Made in India, the new play by Satinder Chohan, delves into the unseen world of surrogacy trade in the country.
Three women’s lives intersect over one woman’s pursuit to have a baby: Londoner Eva has exhausted all channels, having suffered three failed attempts at IVF and, after losing her partner to cancer, faced rejection in the courts of her plea to use her dead husband’s sperm to have a child via surrogacy. Dr Gupta’s surrogacy clinic in Gurajat and 28-year-old village girl Aditi are her last chance. But the final hurdles are yet to be overcome as a nationwide ban on the “business” of surrogacy for hopeful international parents comes into force the night of the crucial transfer…
The three-hander is intense but the challenging subject deftly and creatively handled. Syreeta Kumar is masterful as the supremely businesslike doctor, determined to see her lucrative model survive where her hordes of penniless girls’ uteruses are rented out like office space to desperate, childless foreigners: “Business. No different to buying a pair of trainers”. Ulrika Krishnamurti’s performance as Aditi begins with the timid, seemingly defenceless girl who through the unfurling chaos that is her journey to delivering Eva’s twins, seeks to assert agency over what is put in her “tum tum”, with the recurring line “my body, my choice” moving from sensationalised marketing slogan to statement of defiance throughout the course of the play. Gina Isaac is convincing and relatable as the 40-something career highflyer, at her wits end for not being able to achieve the one thing she cannot control, which is preventing her from what society tells her would make her “a real woman”.
But it is the interaction and dynamics between the three performers that build the piece’s momentum and tension. At times they are disparate from one another: Eva separated by language and cultural understanding; Dr Gupta severe and clinical in her approach; Aditi unable to fully comprehend the context she finds herself in. Yet, at others, they connect and find tenderness and empathy with one another: Eva reaching out to Aditi to ensure her welfare as well as that of her unborn children; Dr Gupta’s usual steeliness broken by Eva’s imploring and promise of financial compensation; and Aditi finding empowerment in her ability to help Eva and achieve her own financial independence.
Kate Posner’s direction, beautifully choreographed movement and a creatively designed set ensure a fluidity in the play’s progression – in particular taking the action from different spaces in the clinic and replicating the development in the pregnancy and eventual gory birth through the use of lighting and flowing red scarves. The piece is steeped in an authentic evocation of elements of Indian culture – and its clash with that of the presuming West – challenging our moral understanding of what takes place and who we see as at blame.
Made in India explores an under-reported topic, and modern-day anxieties about women’s control over their own bodies, societal pressures to ace career and motherhood, and the dark side of exploitation of those in poverty through a supremely human story in a visually stimulating and engaging way, challenging the viewer to interrogate where the true moral compass lies.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 11th March 2017.
Photo: Robert Day
Made in India is at Soho Theatre from 8th until 25th March, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Made in India here: