Theatre Review: Death and the Estate

A scene from Death and the Estate Play

Kilele’s production of Death and the estate encapsulated the greed, horror and immorality within a small community where moral boundaries are apparently lacking.

The plays’ title and short synopsis on the promotional materials left one with high anticipation of a suspense-ridden, fast paced tale full of twists, turns and thrills as most thrillers are wont to have. In Death and the Estate, there is a pretty healthy dose of this.

The stage was furnished by the able hands of Odds&Ends which made for a convincing upper-class living room. The star-studded cast of Doreen Imoh, Maureen Mutheu, and Awiti Obinga among others donned appropriate costumes for their different roles. The director played cleverly with the lights to indicate flashbacks, flashfowards and imaginations or hallucinations throughout the play. The sound effects , while timely for the most part, were delayed or out of places in some instances (while turning on a radio, firing a gun-yes, there are guns in this one 😉

The first scene of the play introduces us to the patriarch’s (Ebenezer) wife Margaret and their servant Abigail where the audience encounters the venom that is Mrs. Ebenezer’s tongue which she uses to beat everyone who has the misfortune of crossing her path. The character Margaret (Mary Atieno) is a talented actress who has been featured in local TV series and Movies including Saints, Siri, The Tusle, Killer Necklace and gracefully and charmingly slips into one mood after the other depending on the goal she wants to achieve.

Death and the Estate Play

Death and the Estate Play

The plot of the play thereafter is quite linear and the director introduces snippets and clues to the possible end of the play as more characters are introduced and the plot thickens, so to speak. Mrs. Ebenezer’s lover, for example, executes his role to near perfection (He is, after-all, an experienced actor, having appeared in the local production ‘Tahidi High’). Then there is the seductive servant Kate, the hilarious Reverend Father Abraham who delivers punch lines almost unintentionally and which makes watching him more hilarious who are also worthy of mention.

There is a twist on the tale that audiences should watch out for. Not everything is really as it seems…

It is prudent to mention that while the script was fresh, original and a commendable effort by a young Kenyan writer, it could do with less cliché phrases like ‘We are fighting a losing battle’ and ‘Don’t count your chicks before they hatch’ as they serve to distract audiences that are keen on listening to the dialogue and could end up drawing attention away from the message.

Those interested in drama, a little bit of suspense and laughter this weekend will enjoy this play.

The play started on 9th till the 11th December at the Kenya National Theatre.

Reviewed  by Faith Oneya

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