This darkly comic play opens the 2017 season at the Bush Theatre, following its major £4.3m capital project to revitalise the building. Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rajiv Joseph, Guards at the Taj takes an enduring legend about the Taj Mahal and prompts audiences to explore questions about art, privilege and duty.
Danny Ashok (Disgraced, Bush Theatre; Capital, BBC) and Darren Kuppan (East is East, West End/ UK Tour) play imperial guards, Humayun and Babur, keeping watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. Jamie Lloyd directs this new production, designed by Soutra Gilmour.
“If we hadn’t done our jobs tonight, we’d be hanging by our necks in the royal courtyard getting our eyes pecked out by the royal crows. So excuse me if I don’t wallow in some misbegotten guilt all night. Was it fucked up? Yes, it was. But I don’t have to feel terrible about it.”
It’s 1648. Agra, India. Imperial guards and best mates Humayun and Babur keep watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. The emperor has decreed that no one, except the masons, labourers and slaves who exist within those walls, shall turn to look at the building until it is complete.
Now, as the building nears completion and the first light catches on the pure white domes behind them, the temptation to steal a glance at the most beautiful monument the world has ever seen grows stronger. But beauty has a price and Humayun and Babur are about to learn its true cost.
Guards at the Taj takes as its starting point an enduring legend and prompts contemporary audiences to revisit questions about art and privilege.
The play premiered at the Atlantic Theater in New York to great acclaim in 2015 and is the recipient of both the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play (2016).