At one point during Behind The Beautiful Forevers a huge passenger jet flies overhead. It is a visual and sound effect that brilliantly recreates the noise, vibration and proximity of the slum setting, nestled close to the perimeter of Mumbai Airport.
It's not the only part of the production that attempts to capture the dirty, rubbish strewn, make do and mend settlement that the characters of the play call home. For weeks the staff at the National Theatre have been donating plastic bottles to be crumpled and dirtied up ready for the set.
Adapted by David Hare from Katherine Boo's non-fiction book about the people she spent two years getting to know in the airport slum, plastic bottles and other rubbish are currency. What people throw away can be collected, pulled apart and then sold for scrap and recycling. But it is hard and often dangerous work. The 'pickers' are not always welcome and there is campaign to clean up the city, encourage people not to drop litter.
It is the drive to make money that is central to the story. From those living in poverty who want food, shelter and harbour ambitions to get an earring or get out to a home not living under the threat of demolition, to those higher up ladder who just want more.
Sometimes relentlessly grim this is not a rags-to-riches, smile-on-the-face story like Slumdog Millionnaire. This is a story of a social immobility and injustice born out of culture of corruption and bribes. It is also a story of petty prejudices, jealousy and snobbery where a silly argument causes devastation for one family.