This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
My Beautiful Laundrette
ITS almost 35 years since the film My Beautiful Laundrette won plaudits for its depiction of a budding romance between Omar, a young Pakistani man living in London, and Johnny, a street punk who leads a group of right-wing extremists.
A lot has changed socially and politically in the intervening years —the neon signs and baggy pink suits that dominate the design are no longer with us — but this production of Hanif Kuerish’s play, reworked from his original film script, shows that plenty remains the same.
The right-wing extremists led by Johnny (Jonny Fines) may be caricatures, with their swastika head tattoos and St George’s flags, but the “British jobs for British people” placard that one of them holds sends ripples from the 1980s through to Ukip’s Brexit campaign.
And the effects of Thatcherism on community resonate in Johnny’s complaints that all he wants is a job and place to live.
The get-rich-quick ethos of the period underpins much of the production’s humour and community tensions.
Omar’s entrepreneur uncle Nasser (Kammy Darweish) believes that success is knowing “how to squeeze the tits out of the system,” while Papa (Gordon Warnecke) is a once-famous journalist who hates Britain’s society and has sunk into alcoholism.
The younger generation are floundering to find their own identity between these two poles, especially the women, and it’s here that Kureishi has most notably updated the piece.
Omar’s cousin Tania (Nicole Jebeli) and Nasser’s mistress Rachel (Cathy Tyson) both have more agency, with lives that set them apart from their patriarchal families and societal expectations.
Tania’s passionate desire for change and Hussein’s alcoholic bitterness are shot through with provocatively sharp one-liners that transcend the period of the original film, though links with it are there with Warnecke, who played Omar — here performed by Omar Malik — and the Pet Shop Boys, who sound-tracked Thatcher’s years and now provide a fresh, although underused, score.
That continuity, combined with Kureishi’s updates, make this a production that speaks of a conflicted past while giving hope of overcoming difference in the present.
Runs until October 26, box office: leedsplayhouse.org.uk and tours until November 2.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.