What worked so well with East is East when it was first debuted 17 years ago at the Royal Court, was the way in which deeper and somewhat awkward issues within multiracial Britain was conveyed with great accuracy, and great humour. The play was successfully adapted into a film in 1999 and almost two decades later, Ayub Khan Din has revived his tea-filled, culture-shocking classic for Trafalgar Studios and it does not disappoint.
The hilarious story of Pakistani gone British, George Khan (Ayub Khan Din), and his communication challenges with his mixed-raced children and English wife is as funny today as ever before, and equally as sad as ever. George has a goal to ensure his children are raised with Islamic values and are following strict cultural traditions; whilst living a Western life in Salford, UK. He himself fell in love with Ella (Jane Horrocks), an English lady who mothers his seven children.
East is East succeeds at being crude, inappropriate and outrageous at the same time, concluding in some hilarious moments to watch out for; the conversations on circumcision, the kids sneaking pork into the house and the memorable arranged marriage sequence. Jane Horrocks is sublime as Ella. Mastering the emotions of a mother is one thing, but being a mother in an Asian setting brings a whole new level of challenges, which Horrocks accepts and tackles with class. In fact, the entire cast are almost faultless. Each member of the family and their friends leave a special stamp on the hearts of the audience members by the end. Whether it’s Meenah’s cheek (Taj Atwal), Tariq’s aggression (Ashley Kumar) or Sajit’s parka (Michael Karim), you can rely on being made to laugh by one, if not all of the members from the Khan-daan. Amit Shah excels as Abdul, being the only son who understands perspective from his father’s mind, his mother’s heart and his siblings’ eyes. He acts as both peacemaker and trendsetter throughout the story, and Shah brings a lot of sincerity to this role which is to be applauded.
The play does a good job in its effort to be authentic from an Islamic point of view. The accents, greetings and music are well practiced, although I was left wondering if there could have been more culture added to the stage set, both at home and the chip shop. East is East is a strong champion in British Asian theatre, and sets a good example in how to approach sensitive issues, make light of the issue and softly challenge it too.
Review by Sahil Jon
East is East
Starring Jane Horrocks and Ayub Khan Din
By Ayub Khan Din
Directed by Sam Yates
Pakistani chip-shop owner George Khan – ‘Genghis’ to his kids – is determined to give his children a strict Muslim upbringing against the unforgiving backdrop of 1970s Salford. Household tension reaches breaking point as their long-suffering English mother, Ella, gets caught in the cross fire – her loyalties divided between her marriage and the free will of her children.
Starring multi award-winning stage and screen star Jane Horrocks as Ella and East is East playwright Ayub Khan Din in this modern comedy classic about growing up in multiracial England.
Contains moderate bad language; 12+ recommended
Trafalgar Studio One
14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY
Booking From: 4th October 2014
Booking Until: 3rd January 2015
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm
Sunday 19th October 2014