When a film had such an impact on your early adulthood the prospect of seeing it live on stage is a little daunting. This week I went to see the stage adaptation of East is East and I’m happy to say it lived up to all my expectations.
East is East is directed by Sam Yates and written by Ayub Khan Din who also stars in it. Jane Horrocks plays Ella, his very understanding wife.
A little background on East is East is that (and I didn’t even know this) is that the play has been running since 1997 and then the movie came 2 years later. The original movie starred Om Puri and Linda Bassett. In the stage adaptation Ayub Khan Din plays George (or Genghis to his children) and Jane Horrocks plays his wife Ella, and it is wonderfully done. Set in the early 1970’s the film sees a mixed ethnicity family deal with their struggles of being British, Pakistani and Muslim.
The cast includes Taj Atwal as Meenah, Sally Bankes as Auntie Annie, Rani Moorthy as Mrs Shah, Amit Shah as Abdul, Nathan Clarke as Saleem, Michael Karim as Sajit and others. Each and every character suited their role perfectly.
The story goes something like this; George is a Pakistani Muslim and is married to white Ella and they own a chip shop in Salford circa early 1970’s. They have 7 mixed race children, all individuals, all strong. They include Sajit who doesn’t take off his parka and needs to get circumcised. Abdul who is happy getting married off, Meenah is the only girl and is a force to be reckoned with! So much so that George wouldn’t even mess with her! George is the father that wants his children to follow a Muslim upbringing even if he has to be forceful about it Poor Ella is caught in between trying to please her husband as well as letting her children be who they want to be.
The play contains funny moments, sad moments, happy moments, moments when you feel so much for Ella that you just want to give her a hug. The costumes, writing, set everything portrays how you would imagine everything to be and that’s what makes East is East a pleasure to watch. The funniest parts are the ones you’d expect with the model at the end, when Mr & Mrs Shah come to visit and the ‘tickle tackle all gone’ scene. It’s heart-breaking when you see George get violent with Ella and the scene where Abdul is talking to his brother saying he just doesn’t fit in with his work friends.
Overall East is East is a must see. If you’ve seen the movie or original play you won’t be disappointed as everything is what you’d expect and if you haven’t seen either….well.. I’m going to let the play itself do all the talking. East is East runs until January at Trafalgar Studios.