Based on writer Ayub Khan’s childhood experiences, East is East is a light-hearted (albeit with serious undertones) look at the life of an “Anglo-English, Eurasian” family in the 1970’s – seen through the eyes of 12 year old Sajit Khan (Viraj Juneja). His relationship with his family…and his parka…have the audience laughing and ‘aww’ ing in equal measure.
Set in Lancashire, the show highlights the struggles the Khan family face, living life as a dual heritage family in the west. Traditional Muslim dad George (Kammy Darweish) wants his family to follow traditional Muslim ways but comes up against barriers to this, not only from his wife, but his children who are torn between east and west cultures. George is so proud of his heritage and doesn’t understand why his children rebel against their culture, missing the irony of him marry a white non-Muslim woman. Facing criticism from his religious peers and fighting the rebellion of his children and wife, this is a man in turmoil. Wife Ella (Vicky Entwistle) is equally torn, between defending her beloved children from strict rules of their culture and her love and loyalty for her husband.
Hilarious, mostly. At times it was hard to watch. The scenes where George loses his rag and lays into his wife and children…not just verbally…were quite realistic and harrowing, it was credit to the actors for the portrayal of the anguish.
The play was a bit slow to start but it soon picked up pace and had everyone laughing at the pitfalls of family life so familiar to some.
The whole cast were amazing and you really bought into the characters, they made you laugh, feel sympathy and get angry with them, it felt like you were part of the family, going through it all with them.
The set was simple and relevant to the era and was effective, a living room one side, revolving to view the chip shop on the other, doing this throughout, I did at times wonder how the cast weren’t dizzy!
The play was powerful, funny, sad, real and just a treat to watch. Just make sure you are not sensitive to a bit (a fair bit) of swearing.