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Made in India review at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – ‘compelling and affecting’

The cast of Made in India at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Photo: Robert Day
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“We’re pregnant”, says an affluent Londoner, chillingly, to the Indian dairy worker carrying her child. Satinder Chohan’s new play for Tamasha, written through the Adopt-a-Playwright scheme, tackles the topic of surrogacy in India, a lucrative industry which provides an escape route for many women in poverty.

What begins as a simple transaction between Eva and Aditi via Dr Gupta’s surrogacy clinic (“you’re renting a womb”, says the doctor) is complicated when Aditi becomes the somewhat unwitting figurehead for a campaign against a ban on commercial surrogacy, and financial difficulties leave the three equally desperate women at an impasse.

Though the play sometimes feels slightly formulaic, Chohan elegantly renders the knottiness of the issue, identifying openings for coercion and exploitation which inflect the argument for women’s choice. Though Eva and Dr Gupta are well-meaning, Aditi suffers at their hands. The ghost of colonialism looms large as India’s fertile womb is farmed by Western clients to its economic benefit, but at other costs.

Of the three performances, Ulrika Krishnamurti as Aditi stands out. Her physicality shifts over the course of the play as she becomes weighted down by the burden of carrying someone else’s children. She’s incredibly affecting as she fruitlessly pleads to be rid of the twins in her womb.

Despite some redundant video projections during scene changes, Katie Posner’s production is fluent and compelling. Aided by Arun Ghosh’s driving sound design and warmly evocative lighting by Prema Mehta, it never loses sight of the emotional stakes at the play’s core.

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Verdict
A fascinating, compelling look at India's controversial surrogacy industry
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