Review: East is East

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Until: Saturday 15 August 2015
Performance Reviewed: Monday 10 August 2015
Rating: ★ ★ ★

Ayub Khan Din’s play about a multicultural family in the 1970s first premiered in 1996 but became better known when a film version was released in 1999.

This touring production, directed by Sam Yates doesn’t try to bring the story up to date, yet a lot of the plot could well be present-day.

Patriarch George (or Genghis as his kids call him) Khan, played by Simon Nagra, is a Pakistani immigrant, living in Salford, Greater Manchester with his British wife Ella and his six kids at home. The play highlights the issues faced by multicultural families, such as their differing beliefs and opinions, with George trying his best to keep his kids celebrating their Pakistani and Muslim heritage amongst the temptation they face around them in the UK.

George tries to arrange marriages for his sons Tariq (Ashley Kumar) and Abdul (Dharmesh Patel) much to their disgust, and he demands youngest son Sajit (Adam Karim) is circumcised. He also becomes obsessed with the conflict in Pakistan and India and becomes increasingly frustrated and violent.

Ella, played by Father Ted’s Pauline McLynn, tries her best to be the supportive mother and wife trying to see both sides of the story but finds herself on the receiving end of her husband’s temper as he realises he’s losing respect from his children who are becoming increasingly headstrong.

Sally Bankes as Auntie Annie is fabulous, even though Auntie Annie is a supporting character, Bankes seems to grab your attention every time she appears on the stage.

All of the Khan ‘children’ are fabulous with special mention to Salma Hoque as only girl Meenah who keeps up with the boys and at one point ran around the set (and behind) with some great improvisation. Also Adam Karim as shy and nervous Sajit plays a wonderful part, as he gains confidence from within his permanently worn parka.

The set by Tom Scutt was rather cluttered, with furniture everywhere and it was hard to keep track of where the action was taking place at times.

The dialogue is natural and well-written for the best part and there are some hilarious moments – it is a comedy after all. However, it seems there are slightly too many swear words thrown in and when the play changes direction and becomes violent there are some laughs, perhaps nervous, from the audience.

East is East is a comedy-drama and will have you experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions alongside the family, yet at the same time gaining a glimpse into what life must be like, particularly for children in multicultural families trying to balance their lives when they see themselves as one culture but family life demands they be another.

For tickets, visit: East is East Glasgow tickets