Following Elmina’s Kitchen and Fix Up, Statement Of Regret is the third part of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s triptych exploring the African-Caribbean experience in today’s Britain. Set in the office of a black think tank, it follows the gradual breakdown of boss Kwaku Mackenzie, straddling arguments about Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, racism within black communities and the way to move forward. Matthew Amer was at the first night.
Kwaku is a man haunted by the past, quite literally. His father’s death, and his failed attempts to live up to his father’s standards, have left him a broken man at the head of an organisation that should be setting the black agenda for political thinking. With so many strong-minded people in one office, a lack of coherent leadership can, and does, lead to arguments.
It is in these arguments that Kwei-Armah exposes and discusses the issues bubbling beneath the surface; where should the political focus of the black community be in a post 7/7 Britain, should a more introspective eye be used to solve its problems, is the black community a community at all, or is it separate minorities?
The discussions are deep-rooted, thought out and, as one would expect from a think tank, intellectual, often dominating the drama. Yet this is also a play about a family being split yet still trying to protect its patriarch, about lifelong friendship strained to breaking and about office politics.
The stage is filled, as one has grown to expect from Kwei-Armah’s plays, with some of the finest black acting talent available. Don Warrington leads the cast as the gradually disintegrating Kwaku, growlingly demonstrative at his most powerful. Oscar James, Colin McFarlane, Trevor Laird and Ellen Thomas, gloriously confident as Kwaku’s wife, add to the experience on stage. Javone Prince, who is rapidly making a name for himself, provides a Kwaku Jnr whose cocky attitude gives way to an emotional heart.
Statement Of Regret is currently booking at the National’s Cottesloe theatre until 10 January.