Spring seems to be (finally) here and it is time to come out of my hibernation and begin to move into the world once more. It was a stage performance of My Beautiful Laundrette – at Above the Stag theatre near Victoria station that dragged me out of my hideaway.
The play – adapted by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham – follows the plot of the film.
I am sure that most of you know the storyline, but essentially the story is of a relationship between a man of Asian descent (Omar - played by Yannick Frenandes) and his white English (NF marching friend - Johnny played by James Wallwork).
Years since leaving school together, Johnny and Omar bump into each other. But Johnny’s now in a gang of racist skinheads, and Omar’s trying to make something of himself by opening London’s most fabulous laundrette. The story is about their relationship and the fallout within Omar's family.
It's essentially a look at the racial divide during Thatcher’s Britain and the struggle of an Asian family to adapt.
If any of you haven't been to Above the Stag theatre you really should. It is a small intimate environment meaning you are so close to the actors that you can really see the emotion they are conveying - and in My Beautiful Laundrette there is lots of tenderness and emotion. It has that ‘do it yourself’ quality that only comes from fringe theatre, which fosters a genuine relationship between the actors and the audience. I must say that the use of the space within the stage is fantastic – they must have some very creative set designers!!
The play has a wonderfully witty script and the fact that it is set in the 80s doesn’t mean that the story has lost any of its relevance. My friend remarked to me as we came out that the scenes involving the Rachel (played by Samantha Ritchie) and her desire to be respected and 'get out' are still so true today.
As a bit of a cliché, I went to the performance with my oldest Asian mate – our friendship dates back to primary school (incidentally during the Thatcher years) and we have shared much. We have done loads together through the years but it is the deaths we have shared that really stick out.
My father is buried two meters away from his still-born niece and I remember he turned round from his journey to uni to be with me when I called him to tell him my dad had suddenly died. And just last year his sister in law died very suddenly following routine surgery on her knee I was one of the first people he phoned when it happened. It is strange that given all the good times and nights out that we have shared that it is the low points that have been the real bonding moments.
Maybe it is because the good times are easy – it is often in the hard times when true friendship is put to the test.
I wont spoil the plot but Omar and Johnny have their tough times too. The play runs until 17th April and I urge you to go and see it. It will make a wonderful night out.
Whilts I am talking about the Arts. I must say that it is almost time for the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. However, this wonderful institution - now in its 25 year - is in trouble due to cuts in funding (damm the Coalition government, or the CONDEMS as I am now calling them).
To help save the festival go to the link below and sign the petition.
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