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Review | My Beautiful Laundrette | The Lowry | 18/03/2024

The 1985 cult classic film My Beautiful Laundrette has been adapted for the stage by the film’s original writer, Hanif Kureishi CBE. It’s the 1980s and we meet Omar (Lucca Chadwick-Patel), a young Pakistani-British male who takes on ‘Powders’, his uncle’s laundrette business. Although it would be preferred for him to marry a nice Pakistani girl like Tania (Sharan Phull) he has eyes for Johnny (Sam Mitchell)!

Thematically there are so many interesting topics such as racism, homophobia, gangs, conformity, drugs and cultural challenges. Unfortunately, none of these feel fully realised within the play. Had they picked a smaller selection of these themes to explore in greater depth, it could have been an incredibly powerful and impactful piece.

At its heart the narrative is one of a gay love story. With a clunky script, this however seemingly comes from nowhere and feels almost confusing when they actually kiss. It would have been much more engaging to see their struggles and trepidation in getting to this point in a less tolerant time. As an audience you long to feel their connection, their romance, but without the context and growth of their friendship/relationship I was left feeling little.

Luca Chadwick-Patel however shone as Omar. He embodied the character and gave a believability to many of the scenes. However, the book itself stopped some of the other characters and their relationships with each other to develop as much as they could to fully engage the audience.

Grace Smarts set design was wonderfully brutal and was undeniably the strength in this production. With washing machines sunk into concrete looking walls, it was a visual representation of life of a young Asian living in times of increased racism and homophobia in 1980’s London. This was juxtaposed wonderfully with neon lighting and a striking lighting design from Ben Cracknell which brought the set to life.

My Beautiful Laundrette has all the elements for a fantastic show, although fails to capitalise on them. I hope with some refinement it can find its groove and deliver a more powerful message. My uBeautiful Laundrette plays at The Lowry until Saturday 23 March 2024.

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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