arts
East Is East

Hide the bacon! George Khan is back...only this time treading the boards

Posted: 05.11.14

Considered the quintessential Asian brit flick, East Is East changed the face of British cinema, when it was released in 1999. The film was based on a play by Ayub Khan Din who has taken it back to the stage in a brilliant new show where he takes on the lead role of Pakistani chippy owner George Khan, up against Jane Horrocks who plays his long-suffering English wife.

A timeless story with characters that are now household names, East Is East is a biopic of scriptwriter Ayub Khan Din’s own childhood. The story first reached audiences on stage nearly two decades ago, before becoming a huge hit on the big screen. Part of its success was down to the larger than life character of George (who heads up the family) played by the legendary Om Puri; a hard act to follow, but then no one can imitate his father’s mannerisms  better than Ayub Khan Din himself who has stepped into Om's boots or possibly chappals... 

Epic in every sense of the world, this is a play that takes you on a journey involving tears and laughter. Iconic scenes from the film are still there as are some very comedic moments that will have you in hysterics like when the kids mimick old bollywood classics while working in the chip shop and sneakily eating bacon before frantically hiding the smell from their dad by sprinkling curry powder around the house. No we've not tried that tactic ourselves...

The play stars some fantastic young and established talent - there's our favourite actress Taj Atwal who we fell in love with when she starred in the BBC drama In The Club earlier this year, the absolutely amazing Sally Bankes who was literally born to play the role of Auntie Annie and the brothers are all fabulous (and gorgeous!) in their own right. It's kind of freaky how similar Ashley Kumar who plays trendy Tariq looks like Jimi Mistry while Michael Karim is so sweet as anorak wearing Sajit, you won't need to buy any ice-cream in the interval. It's also a delight to see Amit Shah in the role of the sensible brother  Abdul fresh from appearing in The 100ft Journey while Darren Kuppan who plays Maneer and Nathan Clarke as Saleem who makes 'that' piece of artwork have a fantastic chemistry. As for whether the artwork in question makes an appearance on stage you'll have to wait and see.

Even if you know the film word by word and like us have watched it 100s of times, there's plenty to keep you entertained in the stage version - including some very different sub-plots. This is a much more character-driven take, including more focus on Sajit; but it's also wonderful to see the relationship between George and his wife Ella portrayed in such a loving and natural way. Although East Is East is classed as a comedy it is the poignant scenes where Ayub Khan Din has chosen to highlight the tragic edge to his tales that enable a memorable dynamic of happy and sad, leaving the audience simultaneously in laughter and tears. Bring tissues and lots of friends and family; they will all love it.

East Is East runs until 3 January 2015 at Trafalgar Studios, London, SW1 www.trafalgartransformed.com

Asiana readers are being offered two exclusive ticket discounts to see the play at Mates Rates so you can enjoy watching the show with your friends. Save £10 on top price tickets – pay just £42.50 instead of £52.50 OR pay just £39.50 for top tickets when you buy 10 or more.

 To book call 0844 871 7644 and quote promo code EIEASIANATV or 10+ discount.

Fariha Sabir & Momtaz Begum-Hossain

Images: Mark Brenner

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