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Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Meera Syal stars

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JOINING Meera Syal in David Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers are Hiran Abeysekera, Esh Alladi, Nathalie Armin, Pal Aron, Tia-Lana Chinapyel, Vincent Ebrahim, Sartaj Garewal, Mariam Haque, Thusitha Jayasundera, Muzz Khan, Ranjit Krishnamma, Manjeet Mann, Nikita Mehta, Anjli Mohindra, Tia Palamathanan, Bharti Patel, Ronak Patani, Chook Sibtain, Anneika Rose, Gavi Singh Chera, Stephanie Street, Anjana Vasan, Assad Zaman and Shane Zaza.

Previously Posted: The National Theatre’s Travelex £15 Tickets Season continues with David Hare’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which opens in the Olivier Theatre on November 18, 2014 (previews from November 10) before continuing in repertoire.

Based on the book by Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers will be directed by Rufus Norris and the cast will include Meera Syal.

India is surging with global ambition. But beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport lies a makeshift slum, full of people with plans of their own.

Zehrunisa and her son Abdul aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house. Sunil, twelve and stunted, wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu the thief. Asha seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a ‘first-class person’, while her daughter Manju intends to become the slum’s first female graduate.

But their schemes are fragile; global recession threatens the garbage trade, and another slum dweller is about to make an accusation that will destroy herself and shatter the neighbourhood.

Katherine Boo spent three years in Annawadi recording the lives of its residents. From her uncompromising book, winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction 2012, David Hare has fashioned a tumultuous play on an epic scale.

David Hare has written fifteen original plays for the National Theatre, including The Power of Yes, Gethsemane, Stuff Happens, The Permanent Way (a co-production with Out of Joint), Amy’s View, Skylight, The Secret Rapture, The Absence of War, Murmuring Judges, Racing Demon, Pravda (written with Howard Brenton) and Plenty.

His adaptations include The House of Bernarda Alba (National Theatre) and The Blue Room (Donmar Warehouse and Broadway); while his many screenplays include Turks and Caicos, Salting the Battlefield, Page Eight, The Hours and The Reader.

Katherine Boo is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post. Her first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, also won the 2013 PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and was a 2013 Pulitzer Finalist.

Meera Syal’s theatre work includes Rafta, Rafta (National Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (RSC), The Killing of Sister George (West End) and Shirley Valentine (Menier Chocolate Factory). Her television and film work includes Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Absolutely Anything, Scoop and Anita and Me (from her own book).

In April 2015, Rufus Norris will become Director of the National Theatre, where he has directed Table, The Amen Corner, London Road, Death and the King’s Horseman and Market Boy. His other recent work includes Feast, Vernon God Little and Tintin (Young Vic); the Olivier Award-winning Cabaret (West End and on tour); Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Broadway); Festen (Almeida Theatre, West End and New York); and Doctor Dee (Manchester Festival and ENO).

His screen work includes Broken, which won the British Independent Film Award for Best Film, and the film of London Road which will be released next year.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers will be designed by Katrina Lindsay, with lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Paul Arditti.