Friday, 11 March 2011

My Beautiful Launderette

Review on

Trendy couples in skinny jeans and blazers, men with peroxide-blonde punk hairdos and brassy roots, and ageing heavily-made-up Dolly Parton types – and that was just the audience. Above the Stag is a hip theatre company, home to a small but versatile set that changes from bedroom to living room to Laundromat before you can turn and say The 39 Steps. Despite a creaky and stubborn blind that wouldn’t budge, the cosy mise en scene added charm and a few laughs to this fringe adaptation of Hanif Kureishi’s screenplay My Beautiful Launderette.
Full of cultural stereotypes of 1980s London, the play is the love story of Omar, a fresh faced second-generation Muslim with a pisshead father who bemoans the loss of his sentimental ideals of an enlightened Britain and worries that his son’s penis is not in good working order, and Johnny, a skinhead junkie who teeters a thin line between his life as a gay man and his role in the National Front. Their love blossoms in a seedy launderette that smells of bleach, urine and used condoms, with a hustler uncle (played with relish by Royce Ullah) who simultaneously hates and loves England – where you can be anyone you want to be if you know how to “squeeze the tits of the system,” a sleazy young man who would fit the role of a Bollywood baddie like a metal hook fits an arm, and a mistress and daughter in supporting roles.
The program notes promise that the issues of the 1980s are as relevant today as they were thirty years ago. I would like to believe that we don’t live in the same atmosphere of rampant homophobia and racism, but while the play, directed by Tim McArthur, seems a little dated, it hasn’t yet become a period piece either.
My Beautiful Launderette
Above the Stag
Till April 10, 2011

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