Made in India proves itself another tense, provocative drama from Tamasha Theatre Company
A journey into global capitalism with no simple answers
Tamasha's vision to present unheard perspectives and recognise multicultural diversity has manifested itself through new plays from emerging writers: after the successful tour of My Name is…, the company returns to Scotland with Made in India, an attempt to grapple with the nature of colonial economics and the personal stories of those caught up in its exploitative web.
When a British woman arrives in India to arrange a surrogate for pregnancy, she is drawn into the politics of female reproduction: a sudden ban on surrogacy by the state puts both her hopes for a child and questions about the legitimacy of the enterprise in question. Addressing the implicit power relationship between east and west and the emotional trauma of childlessness, Made in India does not flinch at the hardships faced by Indian women who become surrogates, or the arrogance of westerners who imagine themselves as virtuous: the three characters (the doctor at the surrogacy clinic, the surrogate and the potential mother) are a mixture of optimism, cynicism and desperation, as they all fight the ban to achieve their ambitions.
Satinder Chohan's script exposes the tensions of surrogacy without ignoring the emotions of the characters, none of whom come across as wholly sympathetic. Gina Isaac's Eva is both demanding and vulnerable in her quest for a child, while Doctor Gupta (Syreeta Kumar) provides an efficient service while keeping her eye on the profit margin. Between them, they promote Aditi (Ulrika Krishnamurti) as an idealised poster-girl for surrogacy, even involving her in a local politician's use of the ban to gain political power.
While Chohan offers a cool, detached survey of the moral issues without resolving them, her script clearly identifies the strange combination of financial expediency and human rights that ultimately exploits the most powerless woman. When Aditi expresses her desire to be a surrogate through familiar slogans of reproductive rights, the awkward alliance of capitalism and feminism is made explicit.
Nevertheless, the naturalistic arguments between the trio and the wider philosophical issues debated do not always gel, and this tension simultaneously heightens the drama and draws attention to the moral complexity. Yet the intrusion of melodramatic episodes – Eva suddenly can't afford to pay, and Aditi attempts to keep the chid – distract from the measured playing-out of the issues, sacrificing the pace to emotional engagement. As in My Name is…, Tamasha refuse easy solutions and finally conclude on a compromised and provocative note, encouraging further discussion and denying the audience the satisfaction of a simplistic happy ending.
Made in India tours the UK until Sat 25 Mar.