A rush to superstardom and then the laundry


Laundrette Superstar

The Space, London

If heaven itself had wished to prevent me from seeing the opening of Fortuna Burke’s Laundrette Superstar, it could hardly have given me a clearer sign than my eventful journey to The Space Theatre. Late into London due to a motorway accident, forced to sprint, frazzled and unfit, through the labyrinthine wind-tunnel that is Canary Wharf, I finally discovered that the transport recommended to me by Google maps is as unknown to most Londoners as the Harry Potter Knight Bus. It would have taken a pretty miraculous show, at this point, to make up for my sweat and tears, and unfortunately a mere third of Laundrette Superstar – (for which I turned up twenty minutes late) – was never going to do it. What I did glimpse of the show, however, was, if not entirely polished, definitely engaging.

Laundrette is a one-woman satire of the fame industry today; skewering the vanity and naivety of laundrette worker Fortuna – its eponymous “superstar” – as she schemes at becoming a pop sensation. The show is good on the formulaic nature of celebrity, from the charity single that Fortuna thinks will boost her career, to her Lady Gaga-esque get-up complete with teletubby-ish antenna sprouting from her head. There are also some enjoyable one-liners, such as Fortuna’s disdain for a music producer’s designer stubble: “That’s not a beard, that’s a cycling accident!”

What really carries it through, though, is Fortuna’s acting. Her character was sassy, complacent, entitled – but with flashes of vulnerability as she sees her talent continually questioned. Ultimately, Fortuna is just an ordinary girl who has bought into the American-Idol dream; something we are reminded of in comic details of Ealing life. In particular, one scene succeeded, with nothing more than some pink and purple stage lights, a neon blue bottle of Bacardi and a synthpop soundtrack, to conjure up the fairy-light strewn pre-drinks of so many adolescent girls: their heady mix of youthful fragility and the more aggressive wish to be someone desirable, someone seen.

This said, One Festival, in which Laundrette features, is still fundamentally community theatre – hit-and-miss.  However, Fortuna remains charismatic enough to earn a look-in should she ever pull up at more easily reachable shores. As for those prepared to make the arduous journey to her current home; a quick tip: the correct bus is the D7.


PHOTO/Fortuna Burke


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