26 September 2019

My Beautiful Laundrette - Curve Review

Hanif Kureishi's adaptation of his own Oscar-nominated movie, My Beautiful Laundrette arrives for its world premiere as a play at Curve.
Jonny Fines (Johnny) and Omar Malik (Omar). Photo by Ellie Kurttz
The play, set in London during the Thatcher era, tells the story of young Pakistani, Omar, who turns his uncle's run-down laundrette into a thriving business. When Omar is confronted by a fascist gang, he reckons one as school friend Johnny, Omar used their previous history to defuse the situation. As they renovate the laundrette together, love blossoms.

Hanif Kureishi's writing is superb, the piece tackles themes such as racism and gender equality. It's an uncompromising view of our world and the multi-cultural society that we live in. Director Nikolai Foster has done a great job staging this piece. He's a director with a superb vision and this production shows of his strengths to the full.

The design is tremendous. Grace Smart's costumes are very much of the time. She describes in the programme "it's designed to feel like you've woken up on a set from your favourite 1980s music video". Ben Cracknell has done a superb job with really atmospheric lighting.
Cathy Tyson (Rachel), Nicole Jebeli (Tania) and Omar Malik (Omar). Photo by Ellie Kurttz
The music is provided by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (The Pet Shop Boys) who have written new music, especially for the production. It's very effective throughout. The play ends with the brilliant number "No Boundaries", which is a lyrically superb song "you're not the same as me, but we both agree, love has no boundaries".

The company of 9 actors all show their superb talents and with Nikolai's vision, they've created a stunning production. Omar Malik (Omar) and Jonny Fines (Johnny) are fantastic actors and terrific leads. They're excellent individually and in scenes together, watching their romance blossom is beautiful.

Hareet Doel is effective as Salim. He's got a strong presence every time he's on the stage. Kammy Darweish portrays Nasser well, slowly broken to the effects of the choices he's made in his life. Gordon Warnecke (Omar in the movie) plays rickets suffering Papa with great aplomb.

Nicole Jebeli gives a powerhouse of a performance as Tania. She's particular moving in the second act. Her character's arc is emotional as she fights for her place in the world, especially as a woman. Cathy Tyson is a hugely talented actress as shines as Rachel and Cherry.
Jonny Fines (Johnny) and Omar Malik (Omar). Photo by Ellie Kurttz
Paddy Daly is powerful as white supremacist Genghis. Balvinder Sopal supports well as Moose, who alongside Genghis and Johnny fight for "British jobs for British workers". Balvinder also plays Bilquis, who married to Nasser, she's left behind as he enters an affair with Rachel.

You leave the theatre with a beautiful image of love, the love of these two young men. It's uplifting, powerful and optimistic ending to a gritty play. A story that is nearly 35 years old is relevant now as it was the day it was written. Magnificent theatre. You do not want to miss this. Another smash-hit Made at Curve production.

Rating: ★★★★★

My Beautiful Laundrette plays at Curve until Saturday 5th October. It then tours and visits Leeds Playhouse, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and Birmingham Rep. For more details visit https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/my-beautiful-laundrette/

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