Tuesday, May 28

My Beautiful Launderette – The Lowry

For those of us who lived through the 1980’s much of the story told in My Beautiful Launderette is familiar. The need to achieve at all costs gripped much of society and some people gave up principles for the chance to get rich quick. There was a growing middle class, not least in people who settled here from different countries.   It was also a time of advancing rights in the gay community despite the long shadow of HIV/AIDS. Put that lot together as Hanif Kureishi did in 1985 and you have a very successful movie on your hands which went a long way to explore Britain becoming a multi-cultural society, those who embrace it and those who resent it.

The story has now been brought to the stage and once again we meet Omar as he seeks to make a success of his uncle’s rundown launderette, by means not always legal! In doing so, he reacquaints with an old school friend who has grown to be one of those people who resent the presence of immigrants in England’s green and not so pleasant land.

Photo: Ellie Kurttz

I couldn’t help thinking as I watched the play unfold that it had lost something from the original film, sure the characters were on stage and, after one or two tweaks for brevity, the story was the same. However, it is presented in such an episodic way that there is little or no time to engage the audience with the story. The characters felt more two dimensional. There was some back story for the older characters, but the young leads had little to work with in an attempt to drive the story forward.  

The cast worked hard to establish who they were, and Lucca Chadwick-Patel as Omar was the shining light. His scenes with his papa, played by Gordon Warnecke who originated the role of Omar in the film were meaningful and beautifully delivered. Similarly, Sharon Phull brought poignancy to her role as Tania, struggling to find her place in the Anglo Pakistani world. However, some other characters and scenes were reduced to an over played shouting match in which volume replaced subtlety. There was menace in the cat like movement of the skin heads who acted as stage crew to move the scenes changes along.

The composite set designed by Grace Smart worked to become a car wash, a night club, an office, a home and of course a launderette all aided by clever lighting designed by Ben Cracknell.

Some back catalogue and some new Tennant and Lowe music rippled through the evening, but it wasn’t enough to rescue a disappointing show which never really added up to the sum of its parts.

Runs until Saturday 23rd, then touring. Tickets – https://thelowry.com/whats-on/

Reviewer: Philip Edwards

Reviewed: 19th March2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.