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New theatre version of My Beautiful Launderette retains its power


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THE enduring power of Hanif Kureishi’s writing was showcased by the successful stage adaptation of his brilliantly written 1985 film, My Beautiful Launderette. Staged in 2019 at The Curve in Leicester, the play proved its continued relevance in contemporary times. A new version of the play returned to the same theatre, ahead of a current national tour.

The story revolves around a young British Pakistani man of mixed heritage, Omar, turning a rundown south London laundrette into a thriving business. He is helped by a former childhood friend, Johnny, who has been sucked into a world filled with angry right-wing racists. It isn’t long before the two men from opposing worlds start to have deep feelings for one another.

While retaining its original 1980s’ Thatcherite setting, the play leverages its strong source material to resonate with today’s turbulent times. It addresses the ongoing challenges faced by marginalised groups, including immigrants and members of the transgender community, who endure relentless attacks from right-wing political parties.

The multi-layered story weaves together themes of race, entrepreneurship and a simmering love story between two men caught in the crossfire of a cultural war. Enhanced by a vibrant retro soundtrack, the production unfolds in multiple layers, offering a rich theatrical experience.

Central to its success are the stellar performances by Lucca Chadwick-Patel and Sam Mitchell, who embody the emotional essence of their characters, Omar and Johnny, with remarkable depth. The rest of the cast members are great in their respective roles, including Gordon Warnecke, who played Omar in the original film and returns as the world weary father.

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