“My Beautiful Laundrette” is a British romantic comedy-drama film released in 1985. The screenplay, written by Hanif Kureishi, received an Oscar nomination. Although originally planned for release in 2019, the UK tour of the film has only just begun due to various reasons and this stage production is being directed by Nicole Behan.

In this cleverly crafted screenplay, Kureishi effectively addresses universal themes that sadly remain significant in the twenty-first century. The script explores racism, conflict between social and economic classes and misogyny through the lens of a same-sex, mixed-race relationship. It skilfully presents these issues with a blend of realism and compassion, making the story feel current and relatable.

The story is set in London during the Thatcher era, exploring the intricate and often amusing relationships between members of the Pakistani and English communities. The plot follows Omar, a young Pakistani residing in London, as he reconnects with his childhood friend Johnny, who is now a rebellious street punk with neo-fascists beliefs. They work together as caretakers and managers of a launderette which was previously owned by Omar’s uncle, Nasser. However, the main focus is on their romantic relationship.

Lucca Chadwick-Patel’s portrayal of Omar is charismatic and captivating, effectively holding our attention on the main character. Sam Mitchell playing Johnny, skilfully uncovers the vulnerability beneath his tough exterior, gradually revealing more depth to his character, and is unafraid to show some skin in the process. The duo has a fantastic connection. Their relationship feels authentic, and it really draws the audience in, making them cheer for the pair.

The performance that really stood out to me was by Gordon Warnecke, who portrayed Papa, Omar’s father. He originally played the role of Omar in the movie, so it’s a wonderful nod to the past to see him in this production.

You find yourself firmly in the realm of the 1980s, with the original music by the Pet Shop Boys connecting the different scenes. Against the stark, grey concrete backdrop created by Grace Smart’s set, it breaks the heavy atmosphere but also adds to it.

The story is relevant and significant, and this production offers a beautiful new interpretation of an iconic and compelling tale.