Swearing doesn't always equal funny, but in East is East it seems to be entirely in context and completely hilarious. It's like cross between Love Thy Neighbour and an X rated episode of Coronation Street. I love Lancastrian humour (I was born in Manchester) and its unfiltered wry, dryness. George, the Pakistani patriarch of the family rules the roost, and is actually the most unenlightened of all the characters. He expects everyone to do exactly as he says without question, thinks all things Pakistani are preferable to English culture, and still sends money back to his family in Pakistan.
|George likes to rule the roost|
Vicky Entwistle is great as Ella. She is a classic Northern matriarch, battling for her children, who mainly feel that they are English. Most of the kids see frequent trips to the mosque and arranged marriages as unwelcome intrusions into their lives.
|Sajit sees the doctor|
The young Asian cast are excellent, and I was sitting next to to the mother of Sabrina Sandhu who plays Meenah Khan, the only daughter in the family. She was very funny indeed as the tough, bright girl who has to survive living with five brothers and a domineering father in a tiny terraced house.
'I don't think even George would take her on.' says Ella.
|The Khan household|
Much of the humour seems very close to the bone now. The characters call each other Paki - 'I hate that Paki music!' says Tariq - and and talk about visiting Bradistan (Bradford) When things start to get ugly with Mr Shah who criticises the modest Khan establishment, Ella's blood begins to boil 'they may be half breeds, she screams but at least they're not half -wits!'
It's quite a political piece and shines a bright and brutal light onto the issues of immigration and integration, and just never quite fitting in. Ella takes her role as a supportive wife to George seriously, but is torn between his demands and wanting her children to be happy.
|Saleem's art project surprises everyone|
I hadn't read the play or even seen the film, and wasn't quite expecting East is East to be quite so entertaining. I loved it, and despite going to the show on my own, found myself laughing out loud rather a lot, especially in the second half. Check out the next performances here Northern Stage
This post first appeared on Eccentric England - Nominated Best Cosmopolitan Travel, please read the originial post: here