This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour was invited to see My Beautiful Laundrette by Belgrade Theatre.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note: this production contains very strong language, misogyny, racial language and the voice of Margaret Thatcher.
My Beautiful Laundrette at
Directed by Nikolai Foster written by Hanif Kureishi
Old school classmates Omar (Omar Malik) and Johnny (Jonny Fines) bump into each other in the street one day, after Omar’s car breaks down. A streak of light cascades down on Johnny and it is like Omar has just woken up for the first time in years. The attraction is instant. But there isn’t just one problem with this possible romance, there are many:
Johnny has been hanging around with violent skinheads who are in the National Front, including Moose (Balvinder Sopal) and Genghis (Paddy Daly). Omar’s uncle Nassar (Kammy Darweish) has a mistress Rachel (Cathy Tyson) and wants to marry his daughter Tania (Nicole Jebeli) to Omar. Omar has been allowed to lease Nassar’s laundrette and he teams up to run the business with Johnny. They soon they find drugs in the laundrette left by Salim (Hareet Deol) and try to sell them themselves for a profit.
This is south London in the mid-1980s, a time for self-made independent businessmen with briefcases and gold chains, stay at home wives and the undercurrent of the Thatcher generation creating extreme behaviour.
This is a fine company of actors from the fantastic Cathy Tyson as Rachel to Gordon Warnecke (who played the original Omar in the film version) as Omar’s father. Omar Malik is vulnerable and touching as Omar who thinks with his heart and not his brain. You can tell the story is written further from Omar’s point of view as Jonny Fines’ version of Jonny presents all his character through his dialogue and his immediate pack of hooligans is seen at the start as his family.
This is a clash of class, as well as race and sexuality, as Jonny represents a right-wing underclass of the uneducated. His admission that he should have paid attention in school, shows the gaps in his ability to be informed about situations, but he also thinks with his heart and this is why he and Omar are well suited.
The first act is filled with stark dialogue and warm humour whilst the second half brings the threat and reality of the character’s choices to fruition.
Seeing actors remain on stage when it isn’t their main scene isn’t unusual, but in this case it made me think that there are always eyes and ears watching and listening in the background, very 1984!
The fantastic music from the Pet Shop Boys firmly places the audience in the electronica of the 1980s. The vibrant set is filled with neon lights, brightly coloured graffiti and a giant disco ball.
I had been waiting to see My Beautiful Laundrette for some months and was not disappointed with this production. This is a warm and ultimately charming production set against a challenging backdrop. Well worth seeing!
My Beautiful Laundrette is at Belgrade Theatre until Saturday 2nd November. Book tickets here: belgrade.co.uk/event/my-beautiful-laundrette
This isn’t a sponsored post.