East Is East review – magnificent revival of culture-clash classic
Birmingham Rep Ayub Khan Din’s comedy still resonates in its depiction of a hostile environment – Salford in the 70s – while its sharp wit and warm characterisations are exhilarating
Twenty-five years ago, Ayub Khan Din’s story of a mixed-race British Pakistani family premiered at the Birmingham Rep, to reflect the travails of culture clash and identity in 1970s Salford. Opening in the runup to Blair’s Britain, with its open door policy and Cool Britannia, it felt like a look back to a distant, more hostile past for first- and second-generation immigrants.
It now returns to the same theatre in a co-production between the Birmingham Rep and National Theatre and feels – perhaps depressingly – newly meaningful, as well as entertaining and zinging with fresh energy.