Elmina's Kitchen, the first ever play by a contemporary British-born black writer to be seen in the West End (See News, 17 Mar 2005), has posted early closing notices at the Garrick Theatre. Written by and now starring Kwame Kwei-Armah, the London-set drama revolving around three generations of black men opened on 26 April 2005 (previews from 20 April) and had been booking to 20 August. It will now close on 23 July 2005 after a run of three months.

Kwei-Armah himself plays the role of Deli, a café owner trying desperately to keep his son out of trouble in Hackney’s criminal underworld and notorious ‘Murder Mile’. The actor-turned playwright said he decided to step into the role in order to attract a wider audience, hoping people who had seen him on television in Casualty would be enticed to come and see him on stage.

Elmina's Kitchen received its world premiere at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in May 2003. The current Kwei-Armah-headed production opened at Birmingham Rep in February 2005 before touring regionally and transferring to the West End (See News, 16 Dec 2004).

In the West End, Kwei-Armah is joined in the cast by Dona Croll, Oscar James, Shaun Parkes, Michael Obiora] and Don Warrington. The production is directed by Angus Jackson and designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Harley TA Kemp and music by Neil McArthur. It’s produced by Bill Kenwright, Jenny King and Matthew Gale.

On the Ceiling will follow Elmina's Kitchen to the Garrick from 30 August 2005. Ralf Little and Ron Cook star in actor-turned-playwright Nigel Planer’s first play, a comedy about painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (See News, 21 Jun 2005).

- by Caroline Ansdell