My Beautiful Laundrette, Above the Stag Theatre

When adapting films for the stage, it helps to start with the right source material. Haneif Kureishi’s story of My Beautiful Laundrette, directed in 1985 by Stephen Frears in a version that made stars of Daniel Day-Lewis and the fledgling FilmFour, is the sort of intimate character piece that could very well have been adapted from a play in the first place.

The story centres around Omar, a young man who is struggling to free himself from the yoke of caring for his alcoholic, infirm father, and so who joins his uncle’s business. As a test, his uncle gives him a rundown, loss-making laundrette to run, and with the help of his old school friend Johnny and the cash generated by stealing, and selling, some drugs from an unpleasant work colleague, the enterprise becomes a success.

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Tamara Drewe

This is one of a series of very short reviews to catch up with what I’ve seen in the past few weeks since I last blogged.

Thanks to the lovely people at From the Red Carpet (@F\_T\_R\_C), Terrie-May and I went to the Odeon Leicester Square for the celebrity-filled premiere of Stephen Frears’ new film, Tamara Drewe. Unfortunately our tickets were for the stalls and the celebs were in the circle (former Big Brother 9 contestants Mario and Lisa ended up on our row, which probably says something about their celebrity status, or lack thereof).

Based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, Tamara (Gemma Arterton) is a newspaper columnist who returns to the Dorset village of her childhood, and where she had previously been a sexually precocious wild child. The men who fell under her spell before do so again, but are thwarted by her new relationship with a wild rock star (Dominic Cooper).

Tamara is the least interesting character in the entire film, though. More interesting are the lives and loves of the people around her, most notably Roger Allam’s boorish pulp fiction hack and his long-suffering wife, played by Tamsin Greig. It is Greig’s film in many ways — not only the most interesting character on paper, but the most believable, watchable and fascinating portrayal on screen.

Greig steals the film, but not without much competition from Jessica Barden as scheming teenage fangirl Jodie. Playing much the same sort of character as she did in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem at the Royal Court and in the West End, Barden is clearly a name to watch in the future.