Five characters relay tales about their shady lives in a rough district, covering the bases of romance, family and friendship. The murkiness of the action is offset by the elevated Shakespearean idiom that the characters speak in. Mum Debra Penny and Dad Russell Barnett , who are part of the older generation, watch over the younglings, often reminiscing about the good old days. The coming-of-age theme is explored in a punch-drunk world. Mike and Les are two Cockney lads who are full of masculine energy and vigour. These snarling blokes are products of an upbringing where questions of honour are resolved in blood.
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Berkoff's East is one of the most powerful examinations of the white working class culture in England. Set in London's East End, the characters are heavily stereotyped and yet they move us, make us laugh, help us understand the sterile nature of their lives and pose the question: why do we as a nation continue to see their talents wasted?
The opening duologue sets the scene of a violent culture and the value of a person is determined by the extent of their injuries. First performed at Edinburgh Fringe in , this revived Snowdrop Production has already achieved acclaim at the Brighton Fringe in and this current run clearly shows why.
As a Londoner, the opening overture of some of the most famous and memorable cockney songs is wonderfully familiar and sets the scene by introducing a sense of nostalgia, which is a key theme in the play. The father, played by Matt Devitt, brilliantly commands dinnertime with his stories of marching with Oswald Mosley conjuring up some of the worst examples of racism in this country.
The combination of his nostalgic voice, the family miming the buttering of white bread and eating beans is both hilarious and horrific at the same time. The opening duologue sets the scene of a violent culture where strong alliances are formed and the value of a person is determined by the extent of their injuries.
The physicality and gestures of these two actors enable the audience to understand the Shakespearean verse perfectly and, alongside powerful vocal expression of their own natural slang, every moment and thought in their lives is given significance. Through the technique of Direct Address they reach out, make the audience laugh, see clearly into their world and empathise with their misfortunes.
The monologues are stunning expositions of yearning without hope, seeing the reality ahead with the full knowledge of their own destiny. Sylv, performed by Tegen Hitchens, is superb especially in her wanting to be a man monologue. She squirms with dislike for the male species, yet would still prefer to be one and we understand fully and identify with her struggle to be something other than a sex object. The other female character, 'mum', is played by a man Lloyd Ryan-Thomas.
This choice provides much humour and sadness in equal measures. She epitomises the downtrodden working class woman who once dreamed, but never had an opportunity come her way. The actor provides great comedy and the cinema moment is truly hilarious. The commentary on a marriage is both funny and tragic and provides some of the more subtle moments of the play. The ensemble work is a joy to watch. With perfectly timed gestures, exaggerated and often contorted and grotesque facial expressions the family at the fairground clearly shows with great precision the volatile relationships.
Each character is clearly experiencing the pains and pleasures of family life. This company successfully interprets and performs this work of great importance making it a comic and visual delight and at the same time providing the depth of understanding of our class ridden and racist society which doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.
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That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids. Donate to Mama Biashara now. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society.
Enter a username of 5 characters or more. Enter a password minimum 5 characters. Username or Password Reminder. For security we don't send your username and password in the same email. If you no longer have access to the email you registered with, contact publisher broadwaybaby. I need my username I need my password. Send Reminder. Reviews by Jessica Holt. Mike, Les and Sylv are fighting for their youth. Filling their days with sex and violence, they battle both the boredom they fear and the inevitable future they see in their parents, ultimately finding that history is doomed to repeat itself.
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Steven Berkoff's elegy for the East End returns to London pub that launched it
He was born and raised in Stepney, east London, and the streets of his youth had already passed into history, bulldozed by postwar planners and social change. But East is making a comeback. The test for director Jessica Lazar is whether she can make it seem more than a linguistically acrobatic period piece written by a man who is better known by many as a villain in Bond, Rambo and Beverly Hills Cop movies. East was wildly audacious in its time for its depiction of working-class lives. Their racist dad wallows in nostalgia for an England where Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts marched in the East End, while mum daydreams about a different life — in which Ernest Hemingway admires her poetry.
EAST by Steven Berkoff