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Fix Up review at Cottesloe London

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Following last year’s much applauded Elmina’s Kitchen, Kwame Kwei-Armah has come up with another fine play in which black people are shown as inheritors of a tradition laid down by several generations of writers and leaders, who pointed the way to a self-sufficient future that has all too often gone astray.

As an illustration, it is set in a bookshop run by Brother Kiyi (Jeffery Kissoon), stuffed from floor to ceiling, in Bunny Christie’s almost overwhelming design, with books by or about Marcus Garvey, Booker T Washington, WEB DuBois and other black thinkers about the future of their race and its place in the world.

Unfortunately, it also demonstrates what has gone wrong, because Kiyi has precious few customers, a mountain of debts and a troublesome tenant (Steve Toussaint), consumed with the idea that the future lies in commerce, more specifically selling hair and beauty products to black customers.

Kiyi is consoled to a certain extent by his lady friend Norma and a young former drug user Carl and more disturbed by a customer, Alice, who may or may not be his daughter. An unexpected climax proves that Kwei-Armah knows how to keep the interest going throughout a play that may lead many of its audiences into unknown, unthought-about territory.

Admirably directed, like its predecessor, by Angus Jackson, it crackles with life and near-desperation, with vocal interjections by an a capella quartet, and is acted with splendid conviction by Kissoon, Toussaint, Claire Benedict, Nina Sosanya and the very promising Mo Sesay as the excitable Carl.

Production Information

Cottesloe, London, December 16-March 23

Kwame Kwei-Armah
Angus Jackson
National Theatre
Cast includes
Jeffery Kissoon, Steve Toussaint
Running time
2hrs 10mins

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