Kwaku Mackenzie, founder of a black policy think tank, hits the bottle after his father’s death. As media interest in the once dynamic institute fades, his team grows fractious and then, disastrously, he favours a young Oxford scholar over his own devastated son. When, in a vain attempt to regain influence, he publicly champions divisions within the black community, the consequences are shattering. Should black Britons have solidarity – or not?
Statement of Regret is Kwei-Armah’s third play for the National. Elmina's Kitchen premiered in the Cottesloe in May 2003 and his follow-up, Fix Up, followed in December 2004. Elmina's Kitchen won the 2003 Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright and in 2005 it transferred to the Garrick Theatre, where Kwei-Armah (well known to TV fans from Holby City took over the starring role and it became the first play by a black Briton in the West End.
In Statement of Regret, Don Warrington, who played Kwei-Armah’s feckless father in Elmina's Kitchen, will star as Kwaku Mackenzie. Also in the cast are Angel Coulby, Oscar James, Trevor Laird, Colin McFarlane, Chu Omambala, Javone Prince, Clifford Samuel and Ellen Thomas. The production is directed by Jeremy Herrin (who had a hit earlier this year at the Royal Court with That Face) and designed by Mike Britton.
The National has also today confirmed further details for Katie Mitchell’s new “radical interpretation” of Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Women of Troy (See News, 15 Feb 2007), in a version by Don Taylor, which will open in the NT Lyttelton on 28 November 2007 (previews from 21 November).
An industrial port of a war-torn city. Women survivors wait to be shipped abroad. Officials come and go. A grandmother, once queen, watches as her remaining family are taken from her one by one. The city burns around them. The cast features Kate Duchene (as Hecuba), Anastasia Hille (Andromache), Sinead Matthews (Cassandra) and Susie Trayling (Helen), along with Pandora Colin, Beth Fitzgerald, Michael Gould, Penelope McGhie, Charlotte Roach and Jonah Russell.
Mitchell’s previous NT productions include Attempts on Her Life, Waves, The Seagull, Three Sisters, A Dream Play, Iphigenia at Aulis, Ivanov and The Oresteia. The Women of Troy is designed by Bunny Christie, with costumes by Vicki Mortimer and lighting by Paule Constable.
In other NT news, artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s premiere production of Ayub Khan-Din’s Northern-set comedy Rafta, Rafta, which finishes its run in the NT Lyttelton on 10 November 2007, will embark on a seven-week UK tour in the new year, opening on 31 January 2008 at Birmingham Rep before continuing, until 14 March, to Salford, Milton Keynes and Bradford. Bollywood star Harish Patel will reprise his role as the father of a young groom who fails to consummate his marriage.
- by Terri Paddock