EAST IS EAST: Ayub Khan Din.
Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Touring Information: Jamie Lloyd Productions.
Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 1st August.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 27th July 2015.
A highly entertaining but no-nonsense look at problems affecting real people today.
Pakistani fish and chip shop owner, George Khan (Simon Nagra), a dogmatic and domineering patriarch, rules, with increasing difficulty, his English wife, Ella (Pauline McLynn), and their six growing up and restive children – the eldest has fled elsewhere to be a barber. George is trying to arrange marriages for two of the boys, both unwilling, to a better off family.
One might have thought that by now the theme of east meets west has been done to death. But this East is East, directed by Sam Yates, not only continues to resonate; it must be even more relevant now than it was at its first appearance in the mid-nineties.
Set in back-to-back Salford in 1971, the play takes us through moments of rich comedy, harrowing violence, pathos and even tragedy. Yet it manages to end on a realistically optimistic note, free of cheap sentimentality.
Nagra’s portrayal of George is near faultless. This is a man trying his best to be an upright Muslim and a dutiful father, but failing to come to terms with the realities of the world around him, and the fact that his children are individuals in their own right. He’s funny, certainly, and loving, but baffled and frustrated at the same time.
As a woman caught in an impossible situation, McLynn is superb. Ella, the moral centre of the play, is struggling to do the right thing by her off-spring yet stay loyal to the man she loves. And there’s a gem of a performance from Sally Bankes, as Auntie Annie, the chip shop colleague and friend of the family who pops in and out to have a fag and a bawdy natter with Ella.
The children are all played splendidly. So are the repulsively smug and reactionary Mr and Mrs Shah, (Kammy Darweish and Sakuntala Ramanee), parents of the intended brides.
Besides being thoroughly entertaining, East is East is a complex piece of theatre which takes a no-nonsense look at problems affecting real people today. Without offering slick solutions, it presents all or most sides of the clash of cultures issue with admirable fairness.
Aunt Annie: Sally Bankes.
Doctor/Mr Shah: Kammy Darweish.
Meenah: Salma Hoque.
Sajit: Adam Karim.
Tariq: Ashley Kumar.
Maneer: Darren Kuppan.
Ella Khan: Pauline McLynn.
George Khan: Simon Nagra.
Abdul: Dharmesh Patel.
Mrs Shah: Sakuntala Ramanee.
Salleem: Assad Zaman.
Director: Sam Yates.
Set and Costume Designer: Tom Scutt.
Lighting Designer: Richard Howell.
Composer and Sound Designer: Alex Baranowski.
Movement and Choreography: Georgina Lamb.
Fight Director: Kate Waters.