Amani Naphtali 1990s Black Britain stage hit, Ragamuffin, is revived on tour this month. The new production, starring Soul II Soul's Benji Reid, opens tonight, 24 May 2002, at Manchester's Contact Theatre before continuing until 27 July to Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Liverpool Everyman and London's Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Blending reggae, ragga, hip-hop, dance hall, black rhythms and black dance forms with DJs and live mixing, Ragamuffin is an upbeat exploration of the contemporary Black British experience which. Anti-hero Ragamuffin stands trial at the Supreme Court of African Justice charged with crimes against the entire African race.

The audience acts as the jury. The evidence takes the form of a whistle stop journey through Black history, paralleling the experience of Black slaves during the Haitian revolution (1791-1804) with those of the Black community during the Broadwater Farm Uprising in London in 1985.

Benji Reid was the main dancer and choreographer on Soul II Soul's world tour and winner of the European bodypopping championship in 1986. More recently, he has directed "Aeroplane Man" for hip-hop performer Jonzi D. The cast also includes Victor Romero Evans, Maureen Hibbert, OT Fabenle, Kevin Harvey and Katherine Vernez.

Ragamuffin is directed by author Amani Naphtali and designed by Remi Vaughan-Richards, with lighting by Ace McCarron and music by Mykaell S Riley and Jimmy Hayes. The production is choreographed by Angie Amra Anderson, Benji Reid and Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus.

- by Terri Paddock