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REVIEW: My Beautiful Laundrette at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

REVIEW My Beautiful Laundrette at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

I must state from the start that I haven’t ever seen the 1985 film, My Beautiful Laundrette, and therefore I approached this stage adaptation with few pre-assumptions. However, I won’t pretend I didn’t have high expectations; the original screen writer has returned to the story more than 30 years on to rework the dark-comedy as a stage show, and it stars the original Omar from the film (this time, as Omar’s alcoholic father).

Set in Thatcherite 1980s, this play explores the complex relationships and cultural identities within and between British Asian families and violent fascists wanting reform; throw into the mix an inter-racial gay relationship, and you have yourself a very compelling plot.

While it was a slow burner for me, not helped by the clunky and messy scenery set, by the end of the first half they had me. Indeed, I spent the entire second half absolutely compelled, having embraced the 1980s spray-painted silver and neon lights and having been won over by the dynamic between the two young leads. Their relationship was quite simply brilliant; the raw emotion, the cheeky charm, the tension and pressure both brought from their respective backgrounds. The issues raised about gender and class through the family dynamics was also strongly carried through. It probably helped that I didn’t know the story, the ending, and therefore this unknown kept me hooked.

There are powerful narratives and deep messages, and it’s too easy to draw relevancies with today’s Britain. What really struck me was the line, “for something new to start, something old must end”; key gender / sexual / cultural / racial / class tensions and disparities have never truly ended, rendering our society so very fragile and taking so little for tensions to flare.

At its heart, it’s a gay cross-cultural love story, with the two fantastic acting leads. I found it more emotional by the end than I thought I would when I walked in. I thoroughly recommend going to see this show, and I’m certainly going to dig out the film. Be bold, stick a red sock in with your whites, turn up the Pet Shop Boys, and admire your beautiful pink high cotton count soft brush sheet set.

My Beautiful Laundrette at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham runs until Saturday 12 October 2019.



Explore Gloucestershire
9 October 2019

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