By midlandsmovies, Sep 27 2019 07:44AM
Review - My Beautiful Laundrette at Curve Leicester
My Beautiful Launderette won an Oscar nomination for Hanif Kureshi for Best Original Screenplay back in 1987. Adapted for the stage by the writer and featuring an original score by the Pet Shop Boys, the stage adaptation remains true to its roots and plunges the audience straight into 1980s Britain.
Set to the backdrop of a dingy launderette, My Beautiful Launderette tells the story of Omar, a young British Pakistani who has lost his way after a family tragedy. Played with gentle charm dashed with an edge of cunning, Omar Malik’s Omar has the audience in the palm of his hand from the outset. When he confronts a fascist gang after recognising his school friend Johnny amongst them, we are rooting for the pair to make a success out of the launderette that they decide to renovate between them, and later for their love story to have a happy ending.
Whilst the entire ensemble are to be commended for their achievements in bringing this story to life (the majority play multiple roles), it’s Jonny Fines who deserves every accolade for his portrayal of the initially moody and mysterious Johnny. His focus and embodiment of the character needs to be seen to be believed; every action, reaction and facial expression draws the audience in and it was his enthralling performance that had me joining the standing ovation at the end.
Praise should also be heaped upon Grace Smart for her set design; she has created a clever, multi-purpose set that reflects both the grim back story with its industrial lines and neon graffiti, to happier times with the giant (albeit skewed) glitter ball and the ever-present ‘Back to the Future’ poster! The clever lighting design deserves recognition too, from the flashing POWDERS sign to the illumination of a moody, sexy Johnny enveloped in smoke on top of scaffolding.
The play is not without its faults. At times the narrative was confusing to follow as the audience focus was pulled where it wasn’t supposed to be; I missed the first part of an important scene between Johnny and Omar as I was watching two other actors writhe in knee high boots and top hats on another part of the stage! There were also scenes played out on the floor that I struggled to see, despite being only four rows back from the stage.
Despite its minor flaws, My Beautiful Launderette is well worth a visit for anybody who loves the ‘80s (the costume design alone will have you salivating) and anybody who loves tales of star-crossed lovers or is a champion of the underdog. The final fight scene had me wincing, the stage combat was so effective and the curtain call was accompanied by a surprise that had the audience enthralled…we’ll let you see what that is when you visit!
My Beautiful Launderette plays at Curve Theatre, Leicester from Friday 27th September to Saturday 5th October.
£22 – £10
Fri 20 – Wed 25 Sep – £10
241 Tickets on Thu 26 Sep 7.15pm & Mon 30 Sep 7.15pm
Captioned: Thu 3 Oct, 7.15pm
Audio-Described: Sat 5 Oct, 2.30pm (with Touch Tour starting 90mins prior)