Staging 1984 is challenging, but Under Debate accomplished it commendably. The play explores a totalitarian regime’s terrifying control over a population by manipulating reality and obliterating individual thought and freedom. It tells the story of Winston Smith, a citizen trying to rebel against the Party and its omnipresent symbol, Big Brother. We take a deep dive into theatre, a first-person’s  Art & Culture

Theatre in Nairobi: A Gripping Narrative Structure

Theatre in Nairobi is always seeeking to create thought provoking reactions and emotions. The play’s strong intellectual foundation, combined with a narrative of an illicit relationship, shifting loyalties, and spy games, keeps us hooked. Under Debate’s production blurs the lines between past and present, clearly portraying characters from both timelines simultaneously. The framing device is a museum where the document 1984 is an exhibit. Despite actors playing multiple roles, clear costuming, stage placement, and character acting prevent any confusion.



Standout Performances

Joe Holt impressively played three distinct roles, each unique. Meanwhile, Lucy Haywood portrayed a museum-goer, a boiler-suited party member, and a singing washerwoman. The minimal Brechtian stage setting and functional costuming add to the oppressive feeling of the Party regime. Utilitarian, prison-like tables are shifted by anonymous characters according to the scene’s requirements.



Ingenious Use of Multimedia

Production and Theatre in Nairobi have truly seen refining to a good tune. The production artfully uses multimedia with the “Telescreen,” from which Big Brother is always watching. In ingenious staging, actors on the screen interact with those onstage, epitomizing constant observation. As the narrative unfolds, we become increasingly disoriented by the shifts between past, present, and future, and the characters’ shifting loyalties.

Lead Roles Shine

Daniel Hird rarely left the stage and shone as Winston Smith. He embodied the spirit of confusion and exhaustion of someone who has seen through the Party but knows the cost of rebelling. Hird’s Winston maintains an air of vulnerability, keeping the audience hopeful despite knowing his fate. Rotem Yaniv-Cohen, as Julia, perfectly portrayed Winston’s cold-hearted co-conspirator and love interest. Yaniv-Cohen expressed Julia’s belief that each forbidden act of individualism represented a small victory against the Party.

Supporting Cast Highlights

The constant low-level noise, from Lizzie Wood’s Party Fitness Instructor shouting from Telescreens to Tana Gachoka’s ear-piercing security whistle, added to the paranoia and oppression surrounding Winston. Gachoka’s portrayal of Child, a loyal Party product ready to sacrifice people for minor infractions, chillingly depicted the state society could become.

See Also

Complex Characters and Loyalties

The rest of the small cast expertly cast aspersions on our conceptions of their characters. Upper-class Party elite O’Brien (Adrien-Massie-Blomfield), enthusiastic Party workers Syme (Biko Adema) and Martin (Heriques Katema), and antiques dealer Charrington (Matt Rudd) kept us on our toes. Their true loyalties remain a mystery, leaving us to question if they are Party believers or resistance supporters. This abstract use of characters leaves theatre in Nairobi to be a point of action for those seeking to delve in mystery too.

A Chilling Examination

The play includes a torture scene, toned down to convey fear without being visually gruesome. This play examines trust, loyalty, control, human endurance, collective brainwashing, subtle mind control, and the power of the media. All relevant issues today. Both the audience and the players question appearance and reality. This as expressed in the final discussion among the present-future characters: Are we really sure what happened?


Braeburn Theatres