My Beautiful Laundrette, Norwich
JOHN LAWSON Snap Theatre Company has never been afraid to push back the barriers – this time with the first stage version of Hanif Kureishi's story of racial, economic and sexual tension, which became one of the top 10 British films of the 1980s.
Snap Theatre Company has never been afraid to push back the barriers – this time with the first stage version of Hanif Kureishi's story of racial, economic and sexual tension, which became one of the top 10 British films of the 1980s.
Adapter Roger Parsley had pared the cast to the essentials – aspiring Asian business-man Omar (Harvinder Bhere), his alcoholic father (Seva Dhalivaal), his white gay lover Johnny (Rowan Talbot), and a wheeler-dealer family led by his uncle (Georgie Hayes).
Filling in the gaps, notably in the pschye of the mixed-up Johnny, was some stunning projection, designed by Arnim Friess, on the set as his racist past came back to haunt him in the shape of his unseen fascist “pals”.
As it turns out, of course, the worst aspect of his past is right there in his face in the uncle's business partner Salim (Arif Javid), a small time drug dealer who cares little for the lives he wrecks – notably because they are all white lives.
Talbot cut a tragic figure as Johnny, but in common with the other characters, I felt the emotion was switched on and off like a tap so it was difficult to care too deeply about any of them. Similarly this meant that Johnny and Omar's discovery of their latent homosexuality had none of the erotic charge so key to the movie.
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Javid, too, failed to escape his cardboard cut-out wide-boy character until his final speech, when he finally produced the sort of passion sadly lacking elsewhere.
t My Beautiful Laundrette was reviewed at Norwich Playhouse.