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Elmina’s Kitchen review at The Rep Birmingham

Kwame Kwei-Armah has stepped into a whole new realm since leaving the world of TV drama and all credit to him – after the first half of Elmina’s Kitchen I was impressed with his writing skills, at the end of the play I thought he was not only clever with his pen but a captivating actor.

Witty humour is wonderfully interwoven in the dialogue, lightening a gritty play about the hard realities of the lives of working class ethnic minorities and exploring how West Indian roots affect three generations of men.

The play is raw and funny at the same time, culminating in an unexpectedly shocking end which made the whole audience gasp. A well chosen cast carries this intense play.

Kwame Kwei-Armah portrayed Deli with skill – a man stuck between two cultures, lacking a feeling of belonging and despairing about the future of his son.

Don Warrington was fantastic as Deli’s father Clifton, a prototypical West Indian man who likes his drink and takes things easy without much notion of responsibility. His scenes with Baygee, played by Oscar James, were highlights of the play – the duo provoked plenty of laughters laying thick mannerisms and the accent from their homeland.

Dona Croll gave a sensual performance as Anastacia. She was the only woman in the play, struggling in Deli’s late mother’s shadow.

Music is beautifully included in the performance with live musicians and singing by the cast. This worked particularly well with a touching scene opening the second half, which marked the funeral of Deli’s brother.

Production Information

The Rep, Birmingham , Author: Kwame Kwei-Armah

Director
Angus Jackson
Producer
Birmingham Rep and National Theatre
Cast
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Shaun Parkes, Michael Obiora, Oscar James, Dona Croll, Don Warrington
Running time
2hrs

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