Review – Lal Batti Express

Lal Batti Express


St John’s Church – Just Festival

August 9 (5:30pm) 11-12 15-16 (7:30pm)

Lal Batti Express (Red-light Express) is a piece of physical storytelling theatre, devised and performed by the girls and young women who are the daughters of sex workers in Mumbai’s Red Light District. The girls take us on an express journey, through clear and well-defined scenes through the stations of their lives so far, from their birth, choices made and the people who have influenced and inhibited along the way.  The story is emotional, honest and above all inspiring and uplifting. It is an absolute joy to watch. Theatre of this sort educates, informs, and through opening eyes brings the demands and needs of a community to the forefront. What stood out most from the performers, alongside their incredible resilience, was their pride in their community and their love for the various people who have raised them, despite obvious hardship.

Through song, and innovative use of movement alongside traditional storytelling, the performers maintain a lively pace, each working as part of a tight ensemble which shows real skill. Particularly strong for me were the tableau’s presented behind the rotating curtains of a brothel and a scene detailing the rejection and stigma afforded to the girls each day based on their place of birth.  The use of song worked beautifully, particularly in the impressive setting of St John’s Church.

Each girl was given an opportunity to share their own story. The use of scarves, folded, cradled, hidden behind, was simple and inspired. I could have watched the show for hours longer. As if this wasn’t enough we were left with a lovely handmade gift – inviting us to reflect on and value the things that are good in our own lives.

The girls examined what success was to them – and opened the question out to the audience. Without doubt – this show is a huge success. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to everyone.

More information, including tickets is available here.

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