Above The Stag's My Beautiful Laundrette is based on Hanif Kureishi’s 1980s film of the same name and while the ATS production is set firmly in the 80s - including leopard print trousers, glamrock music and Madonna posters - it is still strikingly relevant today with references to government cuts and recession, rising unemployment and, of course the undercurrents of racial tension.
Roger Parsley and Andy Graham’s adaptation while capturing the heart of the story seems clunky at times moving too rapidly from scene to scene without the fluidity of a good stage play. This being said director Tim McArthur does well to use the filmic qualities of the adaptation in his direction and the second half is perfectly paced, particularly Uncle Nasser’s discovery of Omara and Johnny “sleeping” on the opening day of their laundrette.
The tenderness between Omar Yannick Frenandes and Johnny James Wallwork is believeable and touching while Royce Ullah does well to capture the comedy of Uncle Nasser especially in his interactions with Rachel Samantha Ritchie. Tim Hilborne’s comportment as quietly depressed alcoholic Papa is also impressive. Fiona Russell’s design is ingenuitive cleverly using fold out rooms and roll up blinds to create multiple spaces on a very small stage. Benjamin Jones as sound programmer helps to keep us secured in the piece using a range of 80s classics and Bollywood tunes.
If you’ve never been to the Stag before this might well be the best show for a first visit. The story is touching and well-presented by a cast that work really hard and it has enough comedy to make it light-hearted while dealing with themes which are still important more than 20 years on.