Sunday night blues were creeping in last week, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive a text which led me to a last minute, unexpected trip to the National Theatre in London on Monday night with a beloved friend and her family as a treat for her birthday. I was told only that it was called ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ and it was chosen because the friend in question had recently travelled around India so her mother thought it was suitable. And suitable it was – it surpassed suitable, as anything at the National does; this was extraordinary.
Plastic bags, bottles, cardboard, and paper plummet onto the stage with an almighty crash. The performance has started and Asian songs with a heavy beat blare out over the speakers, startling the older members of our audience somewhat. Throughout the production projections of planes fly overhead and a fluid chorus rush back and forth across the stage. The delicacy of the actors juxtaposed the grandeur of the set well – although the sheer immensity of the stage often shadowed some of the smaller actors. I loved that the women in this play were at the forefront – playing villians, saints, and just being presented as real people who make mistakes. The story revolved around women and girls, and better still, women of colour – now that is a truly refreshing thing to see in theatre.
Atmosphere, feminism and vibrancy – the National Theatre created a piece with such flavour and tactile emotion that every member of the vast audience was enthralled from start to finish.