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King Hedley with Sir Lenny Henry (17 May-15 June) King Hedley with Sir Lenny Henry (17 May-15 June)
King Hedley with Sir Lenny Henry (17 May-15 June)

Theatre Royal Stratford East is delighted to announce its latest production King Hedley II. Joining Lenny Henry, who is appearing as smooth-talking hustler Elmore, are Dexter Flanders (Mister), Martina Laird (Ruby), Aaron Pierre (King Hedley), Cherrelle Skeete (Tonya) and Leo Wringer (Stool Pigeon).

 

It’s 1980s Pittsburgh, a city in decay. Against the backdrop of Reagan’s America, King, an ex-con, is trying to rebuild his life and start a family.

 

He’s got hopes and dreams of opening a video store and building a new life. If only he can get ten thousand dollars together, if only he can catch a break. In his dusty backyard he plots and plans with his friend Mister, but is this all a pipe dream?

 

Director Nadia Fall says of Lenny Henry’s Elmore: “He’s a hustler and you hear about him for a good chunk of the play before you even meet him. His reputation precedes him.” She continues “He’s not a cuddly character, he’s full of charm, he’s a hustler.”

 

Elmore can see death approaching and wants to right the wrongs that have been chewing at his conscience. One being that he killed King’s father. However it turns out it was a completely different person and not Hedley.

 

Touching on many of the themes that Wilson brings up in his other plays, King Hedley II explores what happens when black men feel worthless and black women feel forgotten.

 

King spends a lot of the play scraping at the dirt, trying to plant seeds where nothing can grow: this becomes the perfect metaphor for his life as well as the general African-American experience of the time.

 

Nadia said: “I am thrilled to announce such a brilliant cast for what is surely one of August Wilson’s most hard hitting plays, a story which is as relevant today as when it was first written. This is the first time a Wilson play has been performed at Theatre Royal Stratford East and it feels like a perfect fit.”

 

The production remarks critically on the decaying economics of the Black community where for everyone steps towards progress it seems to take, society contrives to ensure it take two backwards.

 

Hedley II is a harsh commentary of American society, examining whether its stated aim of providing trickle-down benefits to all Americans has truly improved the lot of urban African Americans.

 

17 May – 15 June, King Hedley, Theatre Royal Stratford, E15 1BN Prices and details visit: https://ebonyonline.net/event/king-hedley-with-sir-lenny-henry/