Premiered at the Cottesloe in May 2003, Elmina's Kitchen earned Kwei-Armah the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. The play is set in Hackney, east London, where the Yardies are eating up the “Murder Mile” and Digger’s promise of protection sounds more like a threat. Kwei-Armah plays the part of Deli (originally played by Paterson Joseph at the NT), who’s desperately trying to keep his restaurant in business and his son in line with other temptations looming.
Kwei-Armah’s other stage writing credits include Hold On, A Bitter Herb, Big Nose and, currently at the NT Cottesloe until 23 March 2005, Fix Up. As an actor, he’s well known from his TV role as Finlay Newton in the long-running series Casualty and, last year, appeared in the Celebrity Fame Academy competition, which spawned his first album, Kwame.
In Elmina's Kitchen, he’s joined in the cast by Dona Croll, Oscar James and Shaun Parkes, reprising their NT performances, as well as Michael Obiora (Fallout, TV’s Grange Hill) playing his son Ashley. The new production is once again directed by Angus Jackson (who’s also directed Kwei-Armah’s Fix Up) and designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Hartley TA Kemp and music by Neil McArthur.
Having opened in Birmingham last month, the tour, co-produced by Birmingham Rep with the National, continues until 2 April 2005 to Liverpool, Bristol, Salford and Leeds. The West End season is presented by Bill Kenwright Ltd, Jenny King and Matthew Gale.
- by Terri Paddock