East is East

Play by Ayub Khan Din. Set in 1970s Salford. Pakistani chip-shop owner George Khan - 'Genghis' to his kids - is determined to give his children a strict Muslim upbringing but household tension reach breaking point as their long-suffering English mother, Ella, gets caught in the cross fire with her loyalties divided between her marriage and the free will of her children. A modern classic about growing up in multiracial England.

1996: Original West End London Production

1997: 1st West End London Revival

2014: 2nd West End London Revival

Ayub Khan Din's London theatre credits include Last Dance at Dum Dum at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1999


1996: Original West End London Production

Previewed 21 November 1996, Opened 25 November 1996, Closed 7 December 1996 at Royal Court Upstairs (at the Ambassadors Theatre)

The cast featured Nadim Sawalha as 'George Khan', Linda Bassett as 'Ella Khan', Paul Bazely as 'Abdul', Jimi Mistry as 'Tariq', Emil Marwa as 'Munir', Chris Bisson as 'Saleem', Zita Sattar as 'Meena', Imran Ali as 'Sajjid', and Lesley Nicol as 'Doctor'/'Mr Shah'.

Directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, with designs by Sue Mayes, and lighting by Malcolm Ransom.

A co-production between the Tamasha Theatre Company and the Royal Court Theatre.

This production transferred to London following a run at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Studio (previewed 8 October 1996, opened 10 October 1996, closed 26 October 1996), Sheffield Crucible Theatre Studio (28 October to 2 November 1996), and Salford Ben Kingsley Studio (4 to 9 November 1996).


1997: 1st West End London Revival

Previewed 5 February 1997, Opened 7 February 1997, Closed 8 March 1997 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East
Transferred 26 March 1997, Closed 24 May 1997 at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (at the Duke of York's Theatre)

The cast at London's Theatre Royal Stratford East and the West End's Duke of York's Theatre featured Nasser Memarzia as 'George Khan', Linda Bassett as 'Ella Khan', Paul Bazely as 'Abdul', Jimi Mistry as 'Tariq', Emil Marwa as 'Munir', Chris Bisson as 'Saleem', Zita Sattar as 'Meena', Imran Ali as 'Sajjid', Gillian Hanna as 'Auntie Annie', and Kriss Dosanjh as 'Doctor'/'Mr Shah'.

Directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, with designs by Sue Mayes, and lighting by Paul Taylor.

"While it is true that Ayub Khan-Din's play opened first at one of the Royal Court's central premises, where nothing is permitted to run for more than three and a half weeks, the swift reappearance is not only a mark of the work's novelty - first modern Asian play to dispense with a Fringe springboard - but of its sizzling quality... Set in Salford in 1971, when East Pakistan is in the throes of turning itself into Bangladesh, the Khan family consists of Kashmir-born George, a humourless disciplinarian, his English wife Ella, and six of their seven children... The problem is that his children are growing up influenced by their two cultures, and what the play suggests is the anguish this brings them... Yes, some scenes are rough at the edges, and rough in the middle too, but the play's qualities override such complaints." The Times

"As a writer, Ayub Khan-Din's slice of Seventies Salford life in a mixed marriage, East is East, has justly made his reputation as someone opening up new territory for the British stage with the verve and delight of his Salfordian predecessors, Shelagh Delaney and Mike Leigh... The audience yelps first with pleasure, then with shocked sympathy, as seven grown-up children in the terraced house lay mutiny, in different ways, against the violent tyranny of their Muslim father, a chip-shop owner who came to this country from Pakistan in 1935. Their white mother is treated as a doormat and a punchbag. Not unreasonably, as he lays down the law over the arranged marriage of his eldest sons a process culminating in a scene of high farce and disaster she asks him: 'If Pakistani women are so great, why didn't you marry one?'" The Observer

East is East at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (at the Duke of York's Theatre) opened on 26 March 1997, and closed on 24 May 1997


2014: 2nd West End London Revival

Previewed 4 October 2014, Opened 15 October 2014, Closed 3 January 2015 at the Trafalgar Studio 1 (now Trafalgar Theatre)

A major revival of Ayub Khan Din's East is East starring Jane Horrocks and Ayub Khan Din

Presented as part of 'Trafalgar Transformed'.

The cast featured Ayub Khan Din as 'George Khan', Jane Horrocks as 'Ella Khan', Amit Shah as 'Abdul Khan', Ashley Kumar as 'Tariq Khan', Darren Kuppan as 'Maneer Khan', Nathan Clarke as 'Saleem Khan', Taj Atwal as 'Meenah Khan', Michael Karim as 'Sajit Khan', Sally Bankes as 'Auntie Annie', Hassani Shapi as 'Doctor'/'Mr Shah', and Rani Moorthy as 'Mrs Shah', with Ash Rizi, Deepal Parmar, Karl Seth, and Pamela Bennett.

Directed by Sam Yates, with designs by Tom Scutt, lighting by Richard Howell, and music and sound by Alex Baranowski.

When this production opened Sam Marlowe in the Times noted that "today, in a Britain where Ukip is gaining traction, Ayub Khan Din's 1997 debut play remains sharply relevant. Fierce, funny and affecting, it's also a joy - and it's delivered with infectious verve in Sam Yates's revival for the Trafalgar Transformed season with a cracking cast led by Jane Horrocks and Ayub Khan Din himself." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian explained that "there is something particularly poignant in watching Ayub Khan Din play the overbearing father, George, in his strongly autobiographical play about growing up in a mixed race household which is set in Salford in the early 1970s... It's a beautiful performance in a hugely enjoyable revival: a complex and comic portrait of a man adrift in a changing world, out of touch with his children and attempting to rule his family through fear when all they long to offer in return is love." Jane Shilling in the Daily Telegraph praised how "Tom Scutt's terrific set beautifully evokes the claustrophobic squalor of the Khans' overcrowded Salford terrace and the chippy where the children are expected to work after school. Sally Bankes's high-energy performance as the gossipy Catholic neighbour, Auntie Annie, lights up the stage, and the final scene, a disastrous betrothal tea-party, is a comic gem." Paul Taylor in the Independent highlighted that "Sam Yates's splendid revival now in the Trafalgar Transformed Season is notable for several reasons. It brings Jane Horrocks back to stage in a terrific, gutsy-yet-sensitive portrayal of Ella... This time, too, the author himself plays the tyrannical George Khan." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described how "Jane Horrocks returns to theatre, after five years away, with an intelligent portrait of a Seventies housewife struggling to stand up to six wilful children and a despotic husband... The grimmer scenes of domestic abuse seem contrived, and the production doesn't always feel sharply focused. But any opportunity to see Horrocks onstage is a treat." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail commented how "the play is a time capsule of a more optimistic, sadly deluded time. The playwright acts in this production (as the father), and his presence certainly adds to the interest and authenticity of the enterprise, though not necessarily its dramatic quality."

East is East in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 4 October 2014, opened on 15 October 2014, and closed on 3 January 2015.