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Elmina’s Kitchen review at Cottesloe National Theatre London

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Though British by birth, the author himself – a wellknown actor as well as writer – is conscious not only of his immediate ancestors in the Caribbean but of his African heritage. Indeed, the very name of his play recalls the fort in Ghana where slaves were kept prior to transportation. It is a pity that he has not been able to devise a more solid construction for the piece because the background is of exceptional interest to black and white alike. Here, in a rather dingy West Indian cafe in Hackney, we meet three generations.

The owner, Deli, is London-born, a former boxer who is worried about his teenage son Ashley. Ashley is anxious to exchange the humble role of delivery boy in favour of the local gangsta culture, in which a young man earns respect by the calibre of the gun he carries and the car he drives. But also on the scene is Deli’s father Clifton, product of an age when black men established their status by the smartness of their suits and the size of their jewellery.

But as a generational drama, with a sprinkling of humour, it does not register as well as it should. This is partly because there are three kinds of accent, of which it must be said that the contemporary is the most impenetrable. The acting, by Paterson Joseph as Deli, Emmanuel Idowu as his son and George Harris as the grandfather, is expansive and energetic and there are additional vivid performances from Oscar James, Dona Croll and Shaun Parkes under Angus Jackson’s sympathetic direction. Praise for Bunny Christie also for her authentic setting.

This show was reviewed prior to the website launch. A new review may be pending.

Production Information

Cottesloe, National Theatre, London, May 29-August 25

Author
Kwame Kwei-Armah
Director
Angus Jackson
Producer
National Theatre
Cast includes
Paterson Joseph, Oscar James, George Harris Running time

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