Elmina’s Kitchen, powerful, gritty, entertaining

The Cayman Drama Society’s latest production, Elmina’s Kitchen, had a powerful and stark message to portray, crime does not pay.

The play opened on Thursday, 29 June at the Prospect Playhouse, Red Bay. It touches on a rather dour subject which director Bill Bewley and the cast sensitively, yet dramatically, brought to life in this powerful two-hour gritty drama, which will undoubtedly appeal to theatre buffs who enjoy something a little more ‘meaty’.

Played out around three generations of men, Elmina’s Kitchen, written by award winning playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, is set in a café serving West Indian food on the mean and tough streets of Hackney, London.

Deli, played by Vincent Francis, runs the café, alongside recently recruited waitress Anastasia (Deon Mattis). Having served time in prison for GBH, Deli knows all too well that crime does not pay.

The play centres on Deli hopelessly trying to keep his wayward adolescent son and aspiring criminal Ashley – veteran actor Fritz McPherson – from being dragged into a life of easy money.

Digger, Leroy Holness, plays the convincing villain. A hardened criminal and a regular at the café, he brings to the play a solid dose of violence and acts as a stark contrast to Deli who is keen to stay on the straight and narrow.

Other characters are Clifton (Dennis Hue), Deli’s estranged Father recently returned from the West Indies, Ashley, played by Fritz McPherson, and Baygee, Lionel Durrant, who brings to the play much needed light relief.

The language is that of the streets combined with a West Indian accent. Not too strong for most, although if you are new to the island you may struggle in places.

There is occasional foul language – the majority has been edited out of the original script by the director – yet it is so minimal that it would be easy to miss.

Be warned though. It’s not a play if you have the summer doldrums, nor if you are looking for some light entertainment. If you enjoy well-acted thought-provoking drama though, Elmina’s Kitchen will certainly appeal offering a refreshing alternative to more light dramas that are frequently served up.

Provocative and shocking, there’s far more on the menu than the fast food establishments famous plantain burgers. Elmina’s Kitchen brings audiences bang up-to-date with the gritty life of crime so prevalent in society today and the play’s somber ending will undoubtedly leave its mark on all.

FYI

The play runs until Saturday, 15 July. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm. Tickets cost $15, $12 for CDS members, available by calling the box-office on 949-5054. A free air-line ticket with Cayman Airways will be raffled off at the end of each show. Visit www.caymandrama.org.ky for further information and future productions.

Keen to encourage Cayman’s youth to venture out and see the play, the CDS are offering un-reserved seats free to those aged from 13 to 25 years (13 to 18 accompanied by an adult.) Originally planned for just 18 to 25 years, it has been opened up to those aged 13 and above due to popular demand.

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