Elmina's Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah

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Elmira's Kitchen on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 29 August 2004, BBC Radio 4 Extra, 27 October 2013 
First performed at the Royal National Theatre in 2003, and transferred to radio a year later, Elmina's Kitchen was set in Hackney on the notorious Murder Mile.  Deli (Paterson Joseph) tried his best to run a café, while trying to look after his son Digger (Shaun Parkes).  He was helped in his task by Anastasia (Dona Croll), who in spite of her apparent lack of experience, proved to be something of a rock during difficult times.
Kwame Kwei-Armah's play has distinct links to a much earlier play with a restaurant theme - Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen (1959), in the sense that both put the workplace centre stage, focusing sympathetically on the ways in which the restaurant job threatens to define who the characters are.  Some people are prepared to accept that; others - especially the young - try to resist it, especially when there appear to be more lucrative means of earning a living.  What makes Elmina's Kitchen such compelling entertainment is Kwei-Armah's deliberate analysis and deconstruction of familiar stereotypes - for example, that Hackney is a violent area in which murder and assault are rife, preventing anyone from learning a decent living.  This might seem obvious - especially to those living in and around the area - but it is clear from recent statements by leading politicians that very few of them have any real idea about lives lived outside the comfortable bourgeois bubble in which they grew up and continue to inhabit. 
Elmina's Kitchen is a linguistically rich piece, performed brilliantly in this adaptation by Joseph, Croll, Parkes, Emmanuel Idowu, and George Harris.  The director was Claire Grove, who sadly passed away from cancer recently.  This production is living testament to her abilities as a creative artist in radio.