Entertainment

Kingston 14 takes centre stage

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 16, 2014    

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WHILE on his third visit to Jamaica, five years ago, British playwright Roy Williams was stunned by the level of crime in the capital Kingston.

It inspired him to write the play Kingston 14, which opens March 28 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London.

Kingston 14 tells the story of James, a black British police officer who is sent to Kingston to investigate the murder of a English tourist.

Because of his ties to the country through his Jamaican father, James struggles to conduct a proper investigation.

London-born, Williams' parents are also Jamaican. His mother is from Clarendon, while his father is a Kingstonian. He spoke to the Sunday Observer about the inspiration behind Kingston 14.

"When I was in Jamaica the last time I stayed in Kingston; it was a Kingston I have never seen before. The gang culture fascinated me," he said.

On his return to England, Williams said he researched the history of violent crimes in Jamaica.

"I read articles, books...I wanted to write a play about it all," he said.

Kingston 14 stars Clifford Joseph Pryce, better known as Goldie, the British electronic music artiste.

Williams concedes some may be critical of him looking at a negative side of Jamaica, but he stressed that is not the case.

"I felt that this needs wider attention, I just wanted to write a story that reflects what's happening and that it will move people to care or consider," he said.

No Boys Cricket, Williams' first play, opened in 1996 and was also inspired by Jamaica. He said it is based on his mother's experience as an immigrant living in England.

Williams has won several accolades in Britain including the George Devine Award, the Evening Standard's Most Promising Playwright Award, and the British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Schools Drama.

His most recent work, Sucker Punch, was nominated for Best New Play at the 2011 Olivier Awards and voted Best Play at the Writers' Guild Awards in 2011.

Kingston 14's run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East is scheduled to end April 26.

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