Steven Berkoff's 'East'

Lyrically charged filth mingles with sex, violence and perfectly executed mime, By Moonlight Theatre return with their original twist on Steven Berkoff’s East. Shakespearean verse falls in with cockney rhyming slang, producing language which is both vibrant and surprisingly eloquent. The play is punctuated with discordant tunes sung by the cast and played by a self-satisfied pianist (Greg Harradine).

Roll in two yobs Mike and Les, who display a vigorous combination of fighting, swearing and leering. Meet mum – whose floral headpiece does nothing to conceal her oddly hairy legs and dad (Richard Williams) who spews a heady mix of racism and nostalgia. As is typical mum is played by a man in drag (Andy Currums), who mopes and simpers in her mumsy apron. Sinead MacInnes gives a sharp and funny portrayal of Sylv ‘the slag’, whose impossibly long legs spend much of the production splayed across the stage, while the hem of her tiny black dress finds residence half way up her bum. Turan Duncan gives an outstanding performance as Mike, sweating and contorting he fills the stage with his extraordinary expression of anger and lust. Les is played by Wayne Hughes, hitting the right notes of simplicity and pathos to deepen our understanding of this part-time thug.

The sections of mime are excellent; they come with variable speed settings, adjusted by the unseen hand of the skilled director Tanju Duncan. One moment the characters use an automated and regular pace to mime trying to get drinks at a bar, the next they are slowed to draw out every detail of a fight. This change is catalysed by the keyboard player who leaves his instrument and manages to get served before any of them. The addition of this figure is genius. He taunts the volatile characters, provides comical judgement and frequently punctures the world created by the performance. This is physical theatre in all its playful glory – compulsory viewing.

Reviews by Amber Gregory

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The Blurb

byMoonlight’s award-winning production of EAST offers the audience, should they dare to take it, a hilarious, heartfelt and uncensored insight into the cut-throat violence and uncertainty of London’s East End. Winner of Best Theatre Performance at Brighton Fringe 2012. “byMoonlight’s version of Berkoff’s play is brilliantly performed.” ***** (The Latest).