Johnny and Papa

Jonny Fines as Johnny and Gordon Warnecke as Papa. Pictures: Ellie Kurttz

My Beautiful Laundrette

B2 Belgrade Theatre Coventry


I really enjoyed the wit, intelligence and content of My Beautiful Laundrette. It has a brutality as well as beauty; set in Thatcher's unforgiving Britain of Poll Tax riots, racism, sexism and division that makes this period of Brexit disquiet a brilliant time for a revision.

It is basically a shy love story between two individuals from diverse backgrounds a la Romeo and Juliet where violence will be the inevitable consequence of discovery. Johnny (Jonny Fines) is a reformed fascist with some dubious friends in Genghis (Paddy Daly) and Moose (Balvinder Sopal). His schoolboy friend Omar (Omar Malik) is a first generation Pakistani and part of a large and successful South London family where Uncle Nasser (Kammy Darweish) is the well-heeled one.

He has offered Omar a job in his garage and then his laundrette as manager. Love blossoms for him and Jonny as they discover a shared love of cleaning. Together they develop their vision of a beautiful laundrette, Powders, a laundrette a little more like the Ritz than Suds.

Nasser and Omar

Kammy Darweish as Nasser and Omar Malik as Omar

A further storyline develops as Nasser's daughter Tania (Nicole Jebeli) facing a forced marriage, discovers their love and almost persuades Omar to marry her so they can both be free.

Nasser's mistress Rachel (Cathy Tyson}, inadvertently introduced to the family, offered to support her escape. Tania agrees with alacrity.

There is some clever use of space and props and throughout and ,although this sounds a dauntingly sombre storyline, there is a lot of wit and wisdom, most notably from Nasser's brother, Omar's father (Gordon Warnecke – who played Omar in the original 1985 film, incidentally), while a lot of the brutality emanates from a nasty bit of work called Salim (Hareet Deol) following the Thatcher way far too closely in the pursuit of profit whether it be drugs, Rackman tenancies and brutal evictions. Music is from the Pet Shop Boys and adds another layer to the enjoyment. Directed by Nikolai Foster the laundrette remains open to 02-11-19.

Jane Howard


The laundrette will be open for business at Birmingham Rep 5-9 November

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