East is East

3rd to 25th September 2021

Ayub Khan Din | Birmingham Rep | Directed by Iqbal Khan

25th anniversary production of East is East at the Birmingham Rep is a triumph: uncomfortably funny, depressingly timely and beautifully performed.

My review is below but first here are the thoughts of some of the Year 13 English Literature students from Park Hall Academy who it was my pleasure and privilege to take to the theatre. What did the next generation of theatregoers make of ‘East is East’?

“It was my first time at the theatre so it was a special experience. How quickly you went from laughing to concern as bursts of domestic violence ran through the play is something I will never forget. The concept of a family being stuck between two cultures is something I have never thought about before, so was incredibly interesting to watch. I was fascinated by the actor playing Sajit as he was incredibly convincing, never breaking with twitch on stage even when he wasn’t the focus.

Overall, a unique experience for me which I will hold dear.”

Abbi Wood

“Comedic and loud, East Is East combines dark themes of domestic abuse and questions of belonging, with hilariously funny family life. The play brings to light the struggles of finding yourself and understanding clashing cultures in 70s England. Showcasing a compelling storyline, fascinating acting and stylish 70s fashions, this production of East is East is not something to be missed!”

Eleanor Shaw

“‘East is East’ was captivating from start to finish with it’s intimate charm and wit - Combined with the tear-jerking and utterly shocking moments, this performance drew every emotion out of me at once with no remorse. The performers brought their roles to life with such conviction and confidence, you couldn’t help but be pulled into this family’s predicament and feel like you were looking through the window of a house in 70s Manchester.”

Lauren Fleming

And the TheatreWhippet review…

Ayub Khan Din's play, set in Salford in the 1970s, invites us into the turbulent and troubled lives of the Khan family. Pakistani patriarch meets Manchester Matriarch in this darkly comic domestic drama which ranges across themes as varied as interracial marriage, religion, domestic violence and immigration. The laughs are frequent but the more serious questions raised by the play are always simmering just below the surface.

Directed by Iqbal Khan, this production (which will open the National's Lyttleton theatre post-lockdown) was a palpable hit with the Year 13 English Literature students I took to see it. Their teachers were equally enthusiastic. Tony Jayawardena’s George, a father struggling to navigate the changing cultural and social landscape in which his children are being raised, is a disarming gentle giant. Violent outbursts are counterbalanced by moments of real tenderness with his white wife Ella, played with poise and grit by Sophie Stanton.

There’s boisterous and exuberant support from the Khan family cast. Pakistani marriage and work expectations clash with British culture in hilarious style; the conflict, warmth and camaraderie of family life is perfectly captured by the siblings. Sajit, the parka wearing youngest, is played by Noah Manzoor in a standout performance which packs an emotional punch in the play's final moments.

An important revival of a modern classic which continues to speak to audiences. Catch it before it transfers to London.

‘East is East’ is playing at the Birmingham Rep until Saturday 25th September 2021 before transferring to the National Theatre’s Lyttleton stage from the 7th to the 30th October 2021.

Birmingham tickets: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/east-is-east.html

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

East is East