East is East Reviews: Round-up of reviews

Round-up of reviews for EAST IS EAST at the Trafalgar Studios starring Jane Horrocks

Jane Horrocks in East is East
Jane Horrocks in East is East

East is East has opened (last night, 16 October 2014), to great reviews at the Trafalgar Studios in London, with Four Stars from the Guardian, Telegraph and Indie.

Jane Horrocks stars as Ella alongside the play’s author Ayub Khan Din as George.

Running until 3 January 2015 at the Trafalgar Studios, the show is part of Jamie Lloyd’s second Trafalgar Transformed season at Trafalgar Studios.

East is East is Ayub Khan Din’s semi-autobiographical account of British Asian life in the 1970s and the clash of cultures between a multi-cultural family growing up in Salford, is a play that continues to resonate and provoke discussion.

The play is directed by Sam Yates, with other cast including Amit Shah (Abdul Khan), Ashley Kumar (Tariq Khan), Darren Kuppan (Maneer Khan), Nathan Clarke (Saleem Khan), Taj Atwal (Meenah Khan) and Michael Karim (Sajit Khan), plus Sally Bankes (Auntie Annie), Rani Moorthy (Mrs. Shah) and Hassani Shapi (Mr Shah/Doctor).

In the play 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.


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Average rating score for this production


"One of the great pleasures of the play is the way, whatever your cultural background, it tells the truth about family life and the way that love and hate are bound together. When the Khan boys, infuriated by their father’s attempts to marry them off, and his violence towards their mother, suggest that perhaps Ella should divorce George, they fail to recognise that in their own odd way these two people really do love each other." "Jane Horrocks’ beautifully judged Ella has a quiet, chirpy strength: a woman who, as her sister Annie (Sally Bankes) observes, may well be saving herself for the battles that lie ahead when her only daughter, Meenah (Taj Atwell), reaches the age where she can be married."

"Tom Scutt’s terrific set beautifully evokes the claustrophic squalor of the Khan’s overcrowded Salford terrace and the chippy where the children are expected to work after school. Sally Bankes’s high-energy performance as the gossipy Catholic neighbour, Auntie Annie, lights up the stage, and the final scene, a disastrous betrothal tea-party, is a comic gem. But elsewhere there is a sense of the production’s being slightly undercooked. Horrocks’s performance is as the redoubtable Ella is polished and Taj Atwal is sparky as Meenah, But Khan Din gives a curiously hesitant performance as George: both his violence and his charisma are oddly muted, and without its captivating central monster at full throttle, there are moments when the drama loses energy and focus."

"... the author himself plays the tyrannical George Khan. It's as if Arthur Miller or Eugene O'Neill had taken to stage to embody the semi-fictionalised father-figures in their works. A mixture of cruelly intimate understanding and the desire to hit back informs all these portraits by writer sons. Ayub Khan Din's performance skilfully manages to bring out what is tragicomically impossible about this interfering, overbearing figure the sound of whose approach sends his children (played with immensely appealing, fractious verve here by a crack cast) into wild scrambles of cover-up and air-freshening. But without sentimentalising him in the slightest - the sudden outbursts of wife-beating are sickening - the author lets you see that this man knows deep down that he's a lost, fearful soul, no longer able to keep a grip on the precarious world he created when, with a first wife still in Pakistan, he married a white woman in England."

"The Trafalgar is one of London’s most meanly proportioned venues. Fill the stage with two sofas, a TV, table, various other chairs, numerous bodies, a chip-shop counter, shelves, rugs and extensive scenery and it becomes preposterous."

"The grimmer scenes of domestic abuse seem contrived, and the production doesn’t always feel sharply focused. But any opportunity to see Horrocks onstage is a treat."

"Jane Horrocks, brusque, tough, tender, cigarette permanently in hand, is beautifully observed as the mother torn between her husband and her children, and Sally Bankes is wonderful as salt-of-the-earth Auntie Annie."

"The grimmer scenes of domestic abuse seem contrived, and the production doesn’t always feel sharply focused. But any opportunity to see Horrocks onstage is a treat."

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