Theatre Review: Death and the Estate- A thriller by Maurice Kokonya

Reviewed by Faith Oneya

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 😉

Above: A scene from the play

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.

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 December   and goes up to the 11th December at KNT. On Friday -9th, the play will show at 6:30, while on 10th & 11th (Saturday and Sunday), there will be two shows 2:00pm and 6:30pm.  TICKETS GO FOR 500/= and can be purchased at the venue. For queries, call JOAN – 0723973978 Get your ticket today!

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Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

4 thoughts on “Theatre Review: Death and the Estate- A thriller by Maurice Kokonya”

  1. Yes,i liked the play-after a busy day u know! Abro! Rocked and the guy from Tahidi High amongst others!!
    I laughed the gun part and where the guy had to hit the radio for it to change the song,did that mean someone was sleeping on the job somewhere??
    I also think,the actors should not deliver lines in a recited manner,it should be authoritative and well mastered so that the audience is not taken to a high school scene during national drama festivals.
    Improvement on the above will keep us coming to see what Kenyans can offer on stage.
    Kudos!!

  2. DISCLAIMER:
    It was brought to the attention of the author that the Kenya National Theatre staff were on strike at the time the play was shoowing.The technical hitches with sound and lighting can therefore be attribured to that.

  3. Being more of a movie goer,theater definitely brought a tide of fresh air to my way of relaxation and being my first time there,i can say without a shadow of doubt Death and the Estate lived to its billing and hype.Kudos to the Director and script writer,am already seeing myself itching to get another dose from this writer and the awesome cast that was of the play-Death and The Estate.chrs, 🙂 😀 ;-).

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