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Little Theatre Club thespians | Coastweek

Coastweek-- Little Theatre Club thespians [left] during rehearsals enact a scene from the play ‘Betrayal In The City’ while two characters, Nina and Doga [right] enact a mourning scene.
LTC’s “Betrayal In The City” Gets Full House and Standing Ovation

Coastweek-- An authoritative portrayal of “Betrayal in the City” opened last Friday at the Little Theatre Club (LTC), writes GILLIE OWINO and PETER ODOTE.

The play by Kenyan playwright Francis Imbuga addresses the troublesome effects of freedom and independence in post-colonial African nations.

These nations have been repressed for so long that their inhabitants are left to wonder if they have any say in their country’s future.

The repression often involves politics, with the real monsters being those who hold power at the highest levels.

The second performance on Saturday attracted a full house that included students from the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.

They were so thrilled they rewarded the cast with a standing ovation.

It was a powerful portrayal of a powerful script and more people (students especially) must try to watch the play before it stops its run at the end of March. It is next showing on 3rd and 4th March.

Set in a fictional country, known as Kafira, characters in the play not only have generic names, such as Boss (Samantha Nabulenyi), Tumbo (Aries Kamau) and Mosese (Bonveture Otieno), but many have generic traits, allowing them to be anyone, from any country.

The generic characters and setting not only allow Imbuga to critique corrupt politicians and systems of government in Africa, they also transcend Africa due to their universal nature, thus pointing an accusatory finger at corrupt politicians and systems of government around the world.

The play begins with two characters, Nina (Patience Mathenge) and Doga (Gillie Owino), who are in mourning.

Their child has been killed in an organized demonstration against dictatorship and corruption.

From the plight of Nina and Doga, the audience is then introduced to other characters that must face their bleak realities in a corrupt system of government, including Jusper (Matayo Randu), Jere (Anthony Ndulenyi) and Mosese.

Another character is Mulili (Hillary Namanje), who is an illiterate soldier that has somehow become a high-ranking official now.

Along with other cronies of the government, Mulili causes pain and sorrow for the people of Kafira.

Another plotline to the play deals with the suppression of artistic and intellectual freedom in repressive regimes, something that author knew firsthand.

In the play, this suppression is seen firsthand in the story of Mosese, a lecturer who is tasked with burying one of his students.

He is told that no one can cry during the burial, and more importantly, that no one can make a speech.

Mosese chooses to ignore this demand, however, and is jailed for his disobedience.

Another character, Jusper, is attempting to write a play, but is told specifically what to say and how to say it.

More than anything, Imbuga’s play shows how Kafira is a country that devours its own people.

No one really makes it out alive.

Though materialism and patronage systems, such as nepotism, are rampant, even corrupt officials like Mulili are prone to infighting and desperate attempts to climb higher up the political ladder.

Meanwhile, characters like Nina and Doga suffer and lose loved ones.

“Betrayal in the City” is power-ful in its reach and subject matter, as well as its bleak portrayal of social and political diseases that rot from the top down.

Indeed, by showing how complex the problem of corrupt government is, Imbuga’s play rightly positions itself as a strong voice in the continuous struggle for freedom, in Africa and other suffering countries.

On Friday March 24th and Saturday 25th the Club will be present “Mstahiki Meya” at 7pm on both days. Students pay 300/-, club members 500/- and other 600/-.

Both “Betrayal in the City” and “Mtahiki Meya” are school text books produced for LTC by Gillie Owino and directed by Hillary Namanje.

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