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My Beautiful Laundrette - Review

What an absolute delight it was to witness the revival of My Beautiful Laundrette at The Curve Theatre! Based on Hanif Kureishi’s Oscar-nominated 1985 screenplay, this incredible production takes audiences on a journey to Thatcher’s Britain. Set in the streets of London, the play follows the journey of Omar, a second-generation Pakistani, as he transforms his uncle’s struggling laundrette into a thriving business. infused with delightful humour, the production has a vibrant collection of characters, each a vivid representation of life in the 80’s. The play has many nostalgic nods that resonated with the more seasoned audience members and more universal themes that transcend generations. 


In a twist of fate, Omar finds himself face-to-face with his old school friend Johnny during a run-in with a fascist gang. Drawing on their shared history, a charmingly romantic Romeo and Juliet-esque exchange defuses the tense situation. It is from there that they embark on a journey to revamp the laundrette, determined to prove Omar’s business skills to his sceptical uncle. As Omar and Johnny navigate life’s trials and tribulations, a heartwarming love blossoms between them, defying the cultural norms that stand in the way of their same-sex relationship. Some moments of the play were engrossing, that I became lost in the world of the play, hypnotised by the incredible storytelling.  


The staging of the performance was a delightful blend of simplicity and versatility. The stage was surrounded by grey stone walls adorned with Iconic 80’s posters, three washing machine blocks, and a mobile scaffold tower, the scene was visually captivating. What truly impressed me was the seamless transition between locations, achieved without the need for elaborate tech. Instead, the cast painted the scene, drawing the audience into the spectacle. Though I have never been a fan of a scene changing blackout, it kind of worked here. Hareet Deol’s portrayal of kingpin wannabe Salim involved several thrilling stage fights, with fantastically choreographed action, the audience was thoroughly entertained, never once feeling shortchanged by a two-foot gap between fist and alleged point of contact - you know the sort, we have all seen it.  


Lucca Chadwick-Patel’s portrayal of Omar immediately endears him to the audience with his sweet kindness and charming naivety. Likewise, Sam Mitchell’s depiction of Johnny strikes a perfect balance, presenting a tough exterior as a fascist thug with a soft, protective centre for Omar. Their on-stage chemistry is adorable, making each moment they share a delight to watch. In fact, the entire cast deliver dynamic performances, keeping the energy high and ensuring that every scene is a joy to behold. It is evident that the casting was spot-on, contributing massively to the success of the production.  


Omar’s uncle Nasser (played by Kammy Darweish) embodies a traditional yuppie, juggling a diverse portfolio of businesses while searching for the perfect successor to the family enterprise. Meanwhile, his daughter Tania (portrayed by Sharan Phull) finds herself forced to pick between an arranged marriage to Omar or Salim’s brother. Tania also carries the entire b-story and exposition about her father's affair, and her mother's heartbreak when it is revealed. However, these subplots feel somewhat rushed and unexplained, lacking the breathing room afforded to the other aspects of the play. Omar’s father, Papa, initially appears as a defeated and weary alcoholic, failing to inspire his son. Yet, as the story unfolds, Papa imparts words of wisdom; as I am sure actor Gordon Warnecke did to Chadwick-Patel, as he played Omar in the original film. Emma Brown and Paddy Daly play Moose and Genghis, the fascists whose Hitler-loving, backward views earn them instant disdain from the audience. Their portrayal firmly establishes them as the villains of the story. 


The play deals with weighty topics like homophobia, racism, misogyny, adultery, arranged marriage, and many other social issues prevalent in 1980’s Britain. Despite being 40 years since the original story was told, these themes remain strikingly relevant today. The production skilfully navigates this emotional rollercoaster, offering a captivating portrayal that resonated with audiences. Personally, I enjoyed every moment of it, especially the bubbles.  


While the run of this show has now come to an end, its impact lives on. If the show is revived or set to tour again, I wholeheartedly recommend catching it. With its engaging storyline, stellar performances, and poignant themes, My Beautiful Laundrette is a theatrical gem not to be missed 


My Beautiful Laundrette Review


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