Friday, 2 January 2015

'East is East' Trafalgar Studios 1 ****

I have often questioned whether staging productions on the progression of the positive perception of ethnic minorities can be fruitful. It does prove somewhat successfully; especially when the concept is familiar to the audience. The second production in the Trafalgar Transformed second season is Ayub Khan Din’s, ‘East is East’ was a performance that is exceedingly enthralling, as well as being complimented by splendid portrayals.

‘East is East’, of course is a theatrical adaptation of the 1999 popular film conveys the story of the Khan family in 1971 Salford, Manchester are prone to racial abuse. However, the father, George Khan has immense difficulties in accepting that his British-born children, (apart from Maneer) do not conform to the Muslim rules and regulations as they understand that their culture is fundamentally English. Additionally, George’s English wife, Ella has problems with his overbearing controlling nature, in terms of their children's life choices, and when George is conjuring an arranged marriage to their sons’ Tariq (Ashley Kumar) and Abdul (Amit Shah) to the daughters of the wealthy Shah family, she appears quite disappointed and aggravated by his ideas of who their boys should be married too. Conversely, the youngest son Sajid, (Michael Karim) has not been circumcised as a young child, and when George realises this, he abruptly commands that he must, as it's one of their religious requirements, and this request is granted. George does have a fiery temper, and when is pushed to  his limits, his hands do the talking as he physically assaults Ella and Saleem (Nathan Clarke) as they express their concerns about his constant deceitful actions, which has caused upset within the family. The finale enables us to see George at his foulest as the meeting with the Shah family ends tragically, and his reputation within the Muslim community is eradicated, which gives his children the opportunity to explain that he's been a terrible father to them, and that he must change his ways. Ayub Khan Din’s narrative is sublime as the story of an Asian family in 1970s Manchester is vastly thought-provoking, and particularly exciting to see, furthermore, the humorous and emotive elements within the dialogue were satisfying too.

One found the performances by the company of ‘East is East’ were brilliant throughout the entire performance. Ayub Khan Din is incredible as the controlling, George; principally when we see his cheeky side when he brings home a filthy old barber’s chair for his wife, and how romantic he can be at points. Jane Horrocks is boundless as George's wife, Ella; chiefly when she exclaims to her friend Annie, (Sally Bankes) about the struggles of being a wife to a Muslim man who does not agree with English culture whatsoever, and her vocal work was dazzling too.

Sam Yates's direction is polished here as he has constructed the Muslim culture in 1970’s Manchester with extraordinary panache, and it does convey whether there has been a change in the rules of and regulations of the Muslim religion, which is truly unlikely. Tom Scutt’s set and costume designs are opulent as one was enchanted by the elegance of the textures of the scenic flats, through to the gorgeous patterns on the sari fabrics, moreover, the scenic transitions were fluid throughout. Overall, one found the experience of ‘East is East’ was one excellent way to start 2015 on, and well recommended when it travels across the country on tour.

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