Monday, 27 July 2015

"East Is East" by The Ambassador Theatre Group
Nottingham Theatre Royal.

I saw this last many years ago in Leicester and loved the rawness of the play and. although the music has changed from that play to this new production, the rawness and honesty, as well as the comedy still remains as strong as ever.

"East Is East" is about a tyrant of a father who came over from Pakistan and married a woman from Salford, which is where the play is set, and his fight to keep a grip on his family and his Pakistani beliefs and faith. He is the man that demands respect from his wife and British born family, but he soon discovers that his old fashioned ways are not the faith and beliefs that his family want to follow. They rebel against his attempts for arranged marriages, the freedom he thinks they should have, and their father's view of his responsibility to his family.

There's been several news items over the years about arranged marriages and of what happens to the daughters, and sons, who try to live their Westernised lives, and this play shows the violence and the dark side of the head of the household who feels that he has to uphold the Pakistani religion. The violence is a complete contrast to the wonderful comedy moments liberally scattered throughout.

Simon Nagra as George Khan, the father, is a character you, in a way have pity for as he is so wrapped up in his two lives, the one in Pakistan and the Salford family. He also has his devotion to his religion, so much so that he can't see the impact it has on his family. He is rude and disrespectful to his wife, Ella, played by "Shameless" star Pauline McLynn, while demanding her to listen to him and to respect him.

The family, Meenah (Salma Hoque), Sajit (Adam Karim), Tariq (Ashley Kumar), Maneer (Darren Kuppan), Abdul (Dharmesh Patel) and Saleem (Assad Zaman) are a modern family who want to follow their own modern 1970's lifestyles.

It's the decision to have Sajit, the youngest of the sons, circumcised that brings the turn around from Ella and the family and brings the downfall of George's kingdom. Adam who plays Sajit is brilliant as the troubled and damaged son who will not take off his parka, he even sleeps in it. It's only removed under anaesthetic and one other time near the end of the play, which proves to be a defining moment for the boy.

The whole cast are brilliant with the family's unwavering devotion to their mother and their changing opinion of their father. The "rod of iron" approach of George and the steadfast protectiveness and love of Ella for her family. Sally Bankes also has a lovely role as Auntie Annie which brings so much comedy to the play.

You will love the set, designed by James Turner Donnelly, which is of an urban 70's back yard housing estate, very similar to something you may see on Coronation Street. It sets the mood for the period and the community spirit of the day. The play shows the family pride as well as highlighting the faults of the family and is a wonderful slice of 1970's multi cultural Britain.

"East Is East" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 1 August 2015

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