Wednesday, July 6

My Beautiful Laundrette – Curve Theatre Leicester

Britain in the 1980’s – a time of division and change and this is the setting for an adaptation and stage revival of Hanif Kureishi’s screenplay from that era. First off, I must say that it hasn’t worn that well and suffers from some shameless stereotypical characterisations that modern audiences would find hard to accept.

Having said that, the company under the direction of Nikolai Foster provide a lively and thoughtful rendition of Kureishi’s script and most of the acting is fine throughout.

This is a recording of a dress rehearsal for the actual stage show from 2019 and it does show somewhat – the sound quality is poor and the staging does seem a little slapdash, which is a shame because I’m sure the actual performance would’ve been so much better (there is a fuller review in our archives that reflect the finished production, go check it out!!)

Back to the play itself, this is described, by some, as a “culture clash comedy”, there’s a lot of clash but certainly not a lot on the comedy side. It is a play that tackles many subjects including racism, homophobia, family loyalties, masculinity, gang mentality, arranged marriages, honour etc etc.. – in fact, this is the main issue with the play; it covers way too many things and never really settles into what it really wants to say.

Omar (Omar Malik) helps run an inner-city laundrette and meets up with old school friend Johnny (Jonny Fines). They re-kindle their friendship, even though they are divided by communities and false ideas surrounding masculinity – eventually they form a close relationship and perhaps look forward to some kind of future together.

Director Foster works hard to bring the lumbering script to life and gets some really good performances from the two leads alongside Cathy Tyson as Rachel/Cherry and Paddy Daly as Genghis.

The set design by Grace Smart is elaborate, fussy but ultimately quite fun. There is a terrific musical soundtrack provided throughout by Pet Shop Boys which for me really lifts the production to another level.

This new adaptation left me a little cold and unsatisfied, it was very much a missed opportunity to revise and re-imagine an iconic script from the eighties.

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 7th September 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★