My Beautiful Launderette – Cheltenham Everyman REVIEW

The reboot of the popular 80s film My Beautiful Launderette has already been met with a wide range of reviews. Some two star write ups saying it is a frustrating and confused and other five star reports filled with praise that its insightful and powerful. Unfortunately my opinion lies closer to the former.

Omar Malik as Omar and Jonny Fines and Johnny_ My Beautiful Laundrette_Photography by Ellie Kurttz

The story in itself is an interesting insight into issues such as racism, homophobia, gang violence in the 1980s. It’s still a relevant story and a plot that shows how far we have come since that time. However, I found the dialogue clunky, disjointed and awkward. This left characters feeling one dimensional and flat and left actors not a lot to work with. 

Jonny Fines as Johnny and Omar Malik as Omar_ My Beautiful Laundrette_Photography by Ellie Kurttz_2

The cast is made up of wide range of acting abilities. Some actors were brilliant and I got fully immersed in their performances whereas others looked like they were reading the lines rather than acting them out. The two male leads had serious shoes to feel and whilst neither shone alone together with their endearing banter and playfulness it was easy to buy into their relationship. 

Jonny Fines as Johnny and Gordon Warnecke as Papa_ My Beautiful Laundrette_Photography by Ellie Kurttz

The set and visual elements were strong. Edgy, scaffolding-like structures and rows of rotating washing machines that transformed the ‘Powder’ launderette from a grey out of service shop to a colourful and successful business. Spotlight lighting created a powerful atmosphere for the often dark storyline, although I’m not sure the neon sign found its place on a rough and ready set.

Cathy Tyson as Rachel & Kammy Darweish as Nasser_My Beautiful Laundrette_Photography by Ellie Kurttz

Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Launderette seems unsure whether to fully stylise the production or to stay true to the original film – this leaves it in limbo. Individual aspects of the show are all running smoothly but don’t seem to come together to create an impactful piece of theatre. 

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