Kirkwood is from east London and has a degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh where she performed as part of improvisational comedy troupe, the Improverts and wrote for the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.
The following year she took two productions of her second play, Geronimo to the Edinburgh Fringe, under the title The Umbilical Project. The two plays, Cut and Uncut, were an experiment in cutting the cord between writer and production. Uncut was directed by Kirkwood herself and Cut by a completely separate company under the direction of Matt Addicott. No contact was made between the two companies during the rehearsal period, prompting the tag line "Two casts, two crews, two directors, two venues, one new play... no communication".
Tinderbox, a dark comedy set in a fictional 21st Century England, premiered at the Bush Theatre in 2008. It starred Jamie Foreman and Sheridan Smith. In the same year she also contributed to the Bush's 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. Her version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, titled Hedda, premiered at London's Gate Theatre in 2008 to favourable reviews.
Kirkwood's promenade play about sex trafficking, It Felt Empty When The Heart Went At First But It Is Alright Now, was produced by Clean Break Theatre at the Arcola Theatre. Her short horror piece Psychogeography premiered at the Bush in 2008 and was revived at Southwark Playhouse. She is also under commission to the Manhattan Theatre Club to write a science play. She is also developing a TV series with Kudos Film & Television and writes for the Company Pictures TV series Skins.
Her play, Chimerica, examining the relationship between the US and China since the Tiananmen Square protests through the eyes of a former activist, featuring over forty scene changes and British-Chinese actors, opened at the Almeida Theatre in May 2013 and transferred to the West End in August 2013. The play's title echoes the portmanteau word 'Chimerica', invented by economists to define the intertwined economies of the US and China.
- Profile in the Independent, 27 October 2009.
- Smith, Rebecca (2007-08-07). "The Umbilical Project: Cut & Uncut Reviews". The Edinburgh Guide. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- Smith, Alistair (2007-10-22). "Terror 2007". The Stage. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- "Tinderbox". The Bush Theatre. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- Kenyon, Mel. "CV" (PDF). Casarotto Ramsay and Associates. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- "Chimerica". Time Out Film, London (Time Out, London). November 7, 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2013.