Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Renaissance Hotel, Aix, April 17

Katherine Boo, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Sir David Hare, famed playwright and screenwriter, have combined to make a compelling piece of theatre that takes us all beyond our beautiful forevers here in Provence to a world few of us can imagine.

Hare, creator of The Hours, The Reader, Plenty, A Map of the World, and Skylight, to name just a few, brings to the stage Boo’s story of Annawadi, a Mumbai slum just next to the city’s modern international airport. Boo spent three years there and won the 2012 National Book award for her recounting of the stories of people whose lives are not beautiful and very much short of forever.

Annawadi1The Telegraph said of the NTL production:

Hare has fashioned from her book a tumultuous play on an epic scale, the story of individuals struggling to keep body and soul together in a society that is indifferent to their fates, and conspires through bribery, corruption and inefficiency, to push their fortunes further down into the stinking pile.

At the heart of both book and play is a minor spat that spins out of control. Diligent teenage trash sorter Abdul Husain (Shane Zaza), his shack-proud mum (Meera Syal’s wry and dry Zehrunisa) and ailing father Karam (Vincent Ebrahim) embark on home improvements that enrage their envious, one-legged neighbour Fatima (Thusitha Jayasundera). The latter sets fire to herself and then blames it all on them, ensuring the family swiftly face a Kafkaesque nightmare of injustice and incarceration.

While consistently enjoyable, the show resists the temptation to make the spectacle of poor people in desperate competition look exotic.

As usual, the play will be shown at the Renaissance Hotel in Aix en Provence. To purchase tickets, please use this link, and as always, bring a printout of the purchase with you.  There will be tea, coffee, cakes, etc served at the interval which you can order when you arrive at a cost of 15 euros.