Steven Berkoff’s masterpiece, East, opens 2018 for London’s King’s Head Theatre, where it made its London debut in 1975.
Full of wit, lust and fury, East remains a startlingly original and influential piece of theatre – a triumphant shout of youth and energy.
Its language veers from Shakespearean verse to the depths of profanity without missing a beat, teeming with life in all its murk and glory.
East catapults sudiences into the rowdy youth of Mike and Les as they fight over Mike’s girl Sylv and become unexpected allies.
Assaultive, riotously funny, and entirely unapologetic, East lures you into their tall-tales of felony and bravado and we come to recognise their brutal kind of charm.
Sylv knows her most potent weapon is her sexuality, but she still has the spit and pluck to level with the boys.
Meanwhile, Mum and Dad live separate inner lives, both coming alive in the flickering
light of memories, recalling lives they once led – or wish they had.
Bringing East to life at the North London theatre will be Russell Barnett (Hamlet, The Riverside Theatre; The Tempest, The Drayton), Jack Condon (Housed, The Old Vic); James Craze (The Beginning of the End, Hull Truck Theatre and Theatre N16; Home Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East; Ernie – a One Man Play by James Craze), Debra Penny (Our Country’s Good, National Theatre; Flowers of the Forest, Jermyn Street Theatre; Martha Josie and the Chinese Elvis, Bolton Octagon and tour) and Boadicea Ricketts (professional debut).
Carol Arnopp takes the role of the pianist and musical director.
Director,Jessica Lazar, said: “East’s characters are violent and relentless and sometimes grotesque, but they are also electrically funny, brutally charming.
“They leap from frustrated dreams and fantastic nightmares to punch-drunk reality and back again.
“They don’t ask to be pitied. East resonates so powerfully in the mood of 2017/18 because Berkoff sought to turn ‘a welter of undirected passion and frustration into a positive form’.
“But it is also, put simply, a brilliant play.
“Berkoff’s East still feels amazingly relevant today as it yanks us into interior worlds, rioting in unfulfilled dreams and explosions of longing, leaving no room for polite middle ground.
“Although set in Berkoff’s hometown of London, he has explained that East could be set on any east side of any city”.
East, directed by Life According to Saki director Jessica Lazar, runs at King’s Head Theatre, Islington, from January 10 to February 3.