Home / Entertainment / EAST IS EAST REVIEW A Birmingham Repertory Theatre and National Theatre Co-Production *****

EAST IS EAST REVIEW A Birmingham Repertory Theatre and National Theatre Co-Production *****


Bangla Mirror Desk:


After a long period of theatres being empty due to the pandemic, how energising to see the iconic British Asian theatre show “East is East” written by Ayub Khan Din celebrate its 25th anniversary at the National Theatre giving audiences an entertaining evening full of classic comic family drama. The co-production with the Birmingham Rep is directed by Iqbal Khan and follows the story of George Khan who wants to raise his family the proper Pakistani way but hasn’t counted on the distractions of 1970s Salford. His sons Abdul and Tariq aren’t ready to be married off, Saleem is pushing artistic boundaries whilst his father thinks he is studying engineering, Meenah is too boisterous and Sajit just wants to hide.

Bretta Gerecke’s set design shows off working class living quarters with bold bright colours alongside the family’s charming chippy and the addition of an inexplicable second hand ‘dentists chair’ from the local bric a brac sale. Amy-Leigh Hickman serves up a mischievous Meenah with Noah Manzoor providing audiences with a sweet view of Sajit whose psychological withdrawal into his parka highlights his vulnerability and personal trauma from all that he witnesses in the family home. Sophie Stanton as mum Ella and Rachel Lumberg as Auntie Annie have some of the best scenes smoking and drinking tea giving us a glimpse of working class life in Salford in the 1970s. Tony Jayawardena plays a magnificent and powerful George Khan- at times comical and earnest in character, yet able to portray a darker side ( then the one we see in the TV version) as we witness the domestic violence and tyranny he dishes out to his terrified and obedient family.

25 years on this play still has relevance and we are still left asking the same questions around family, identity, growing up as an ethnic minority and if Britain can ever really be called ‘home’.

National Theatre from till 30 October and Chichester Festival Theatre from 1 – 6 November.

Book tickets here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/east-is-east

Photo credit: Tony Jayawardena in East is East (Photo by Pamela Raith Photography)