African theatre has never been so prevalent in London, with three big theatres running plays. Christian McLaughlin discovers its universal appeal.
Shifting cultural identity; ethnic tension with Caribbeans; knife crime; ogbono soup and joloff rice - Africans are finally getting the chance to educate audiences about their culture.
But, as we all know from sleepy school-days, for education to work, it has to be entertaining.
That's where three of London's most prominent theatre's come into play: The Royal Court in Sloane Square, the Almeida in Islington and the Arcola in Dalston.
With plays by Bola Agbaje, six commissioned African writers, and Femi Oguns respectively, never before has African theatre been so prevalent.
Femi Elufowoju, artistic director of the stalwart of African theatre, the Tiata Fahodzi theatre group, says: "Not until now have mainstream artistic directors been prepared to take the chance with African theatre.
"It has no tried and tested track record.
"We're doing so well people are accusing us of selling out!"
He explains that while the look of the plays is African, their success is because the themes are universal.
"The quality of the work flying around is going to blow the roof off middle England," says Femi.
To view Christian McLaughlin's video of black playwrights discussing issues of identity and race in black communities go to his blog, www.getouthavefun.co.uk
Gone Too Far is at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, until August 9. s10-15. Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Call 020 7565 5000. See www.royalcourttheatre.com.
Tiata Delights, featuring plays by Bola Agbaje, Francis Aidoo, Rex Obano, Yvonne Dodoo, Nii Ayikwei and Ade Solanke, is at the Almeida Theatre, Islington, From July 28 until August 2. See www.almeida.co.uk or www.tiatafahodzi.co.uk
Torn, by Femi Oguns, is at the Arcola Theatre until August 2. See www.arcolatheatre.com