Tuesday, May 28

My Beautiful Laundrette – Liverpool Playhouse

Ignorance isn’t a religion, yet.

My Beautiful Laundrette is based on the film from Stephen Frears and Hanif Kureishi of the same name. It is set in London during the Thatcher years and tells the story of Omar, a teenage British-Pakistani boy, who wants to transform his Uncle’s run-down laundrette inro the go-to place for locals. He runs into an old school friend, Johnny and convinces him to help with the laundrette and we get to see their coming-of-age story blossom. The film and play focus on topics of fascism, racism amongst other subjects, with an underlying love story. This comedic story is heartwarming, divisive and joyous throughout, almost an emotional rollercoaster, but there are definitely characters you root for and ones that are meant to cause the divisions.

Omar is played by Lucca Chadwick-Patel and Johnny by Sam Mitchell. They are clearly opposites at the start, and you do want them to become a couple, even though a lot of the time it does feel slightly awkward or shoehorned into the plot. Chadwick-Patel’s Omar is clearly driven when he gets his first opportunity from his Uncle Nasser (Kammy Darweish). Darweish portrays what we would probably class as a stereotypical Asian Uncle, living life in the UK and trying to earn an honest living with all of his business. As his secondary relationship breaks down, we get to see a different side of the character, and both are portrayed excellently. Hareet Deol as Salim is smarmy, self-important and completely full of himself, as the character requires. It is obvious from the start that he is one of the antagonists of the play. The other main antagonist is Paddy Daly as Genghis. Towards the end of act two, Daly is so into his character, that even sitting in the audience felt uncomfortable and scary with how he was acting. It was a relief seeing him smile at the bows and not seem at all as fascist and racist as his main character. Emma Bown as Rachel and Moose was clever in disguising herself between the two characters and watching the relationship appear between her Rachel and Tania (Sharan Phull) was engaging to watch. Gordon Warnecke as Papa felt a bit unsure in the role, which was a slight disappointment after learning he was Omar in the 1985 film.

Photo: Ellie Kurttz

With music by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys fame, really gave the play the full 80s feel, and it was great hearing snippets of their actual hits in the club scene. Nicole Behan’s direction for the most part was excellent, although some moments did feel forced and awkward.

The play is a great night out, a fabulous coming-of-age story, but make sure you are ready for some moments of anger throughout – even if they are fleeting moments.

My Beautiful Laundrette is at the Liverpool Playhouse until Saturday 30th March. For tickets and more information, head to https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/my-beautiful-laundrette

Reviewer: Jenn McKean

Reviewed: 26th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.