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Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette review at Above The Stag London

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In 1986, the controversial issues of homosexuality, racism and recession were given an almost fairy-tale treatment in Stephen Frear’s movie My Beautiful Launderette. Hanif Kureishi’s award-winning screenplay developed these themes as a backdrop to the budding relationship of Johnny and Omar.

Roger Parsley and Andy Graham’s adaptation for the stage is a hit and miss affair that just about manages to capture the spirit of the source work, despite occasional lapses into clunky dialogue and the lack of any real conclusion. Tim McArthur’s generally ebullient direction sometimes lacks the subtlety to address these problems and Fiona Russell’s set is a scandal of missed opportunities.

That said, there are some engaging performances from an enthusiastic and talented cast who need to relax into their roles. Yannick Fernandes and James Wallwork are particularly good as Omar and Johnny but the real fun is to be had in the exchanges between Royce Ullah’s seedy entrepreneur, Uncle Nasser, and Samantha Ritchie as his put-upon mistress, Rachel. There is also a sly piece of scene-stealing going on with the wonderful Indranyl Singharay as Salim, a villain seemingly lifted straight from panto but fleshed out perfectly to suit the timbre of the piece.

Production Information

Above The Stag, London, March 3-April 17

Authors
Hanif Kureishi, adapted by Roger Parsley, Andy Graham
Director
Tim McArthur
Producer
Peter Bull
Cast
Nalan Burgess, Yannick Fernandes, Tim Hilborne, Royce Ullah, Samantha Ritchie, Indranyl Singharay, James Wallwork
Running time
2hrs 15mins
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