East is East – a Nottingham Playhouse and Northern Stage production. Directed by Suba Das.
In Ayub Khan Din’s culturally still rlevant play, East Is East, chip shop owner George (Kammy Darweish) has his work cut out as head of the Khan household. Back in George’s beloved homeland, Pakistan, a father rules the house; but in 1970s Salford, as Britain evolves and rebels, his teenage children are proving quite the challenge, especially Parka wearing Sajit ( Viraj Juneja) who practically lives in the coal shed.
The cast of ten are a ball of collective energy …
The cast of ten are a ball of collective energy throughout and the action goes from funny to violent to angry and frustrated and intermittently to loving – all on the turn of a silver shilling. The changing moods are also enhanced by elegant lighting design by Prema Mehta and the detailed 1970s style revolving set and costumes by designer Grace Smart. The direction by Suba Das is exemplary with much thought going into Sajit as a blinkered embryonic observer of the Kahn family affairs.
Vicky Entwistle shines as the English wife Ella to Pakistani husband George Khan and the penultimate scene of violence between them is hard to watch. George Khan is a tyrannical father to their seven children one of whom (Nazir) we never see but is hated by the father for having left home to pursue a life out of reach of his ‘respect me or else I kill you – you bastard’ tirades. He is a man of his generation and background, antiquated in his enforcement of unquestioning total respect for the father and totally blind to the alienation he causes in his family. He idealises his home country and is also fearful of what the uprisings and violence in Pakistan will have on his culture and religion and ultimately his family that he purports to love.
Sajit ( Viraj Juneja) is exceptional in the production. If wearing a hooded Parka under the hot stage lights isn’t enough Juneja’s presence on stage is magnetic.
Family members Meenah (Sabrina Sandhu), Abdul (Simon Rivers), Tariq (Omar Malik), Saleem (Raj Bajaj) and Maneer (Deven Modha) are all on excellent comic and dramatic form in this popular drama. Judy Flynn as Auntie Annie and Rez Kabir as the Doctor and Mr Shah are superb as the outsiders that influence the Kahn family in one way or another. Arranged marriage proposals to the wealthy Mr Shah’s ‘hefty’ daughters aside.
East is East works on many levels ensuring that throughout the play the audience is gripped and swept along as they laugh at the many comedic goings on and gasp at the raw reality of the Khan family bickering and making up. The language is fruity, funny, demanding and a true culture shock when the shit finally hits the proverbial fan in the second half. The acting from all the cast is utterly perfect and this reviewer would highly recommend a visit to this top class piece of theatre currently playing at Nottingham Playhouse until Sat 10 June.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe.
This review was originally written for the Nottingham Post.