The historic significance of the yr 1884 will not be defined originally of this piece of recreation theatre. The environment is neighbourly as we settle into teams round purpose-built mannequin houses in a backyard neighborhood on the fictional Wilhelm Road.

Upon pleasant instruction, we change into households making the houses our personal. There’s discuss of avenue events, barbecues and e book golf equipment. However slowly, by means of a sequence of native council bulletins, the principles of the neighborhood change, first to standardise our new abodes after which to curtail our freedoms in them.

We solely discover out on the finish that the sport has been primarily based on the seminal Berlin convention in 1884 at which the western world met to partition the African continent. That convention set imperial historical past in movement and, by 1902, 90% of Africa had come below western colonial rule.

Getting the sport going … Jyuddah Jaymes. {Photograph}: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

There isn’t a point out of Africa or the 1884 convention within the protracted first act (although it’s talked about in publicity supplies). As a room in every of our houses is sequestered and our lives are more and more surveilled, the social modifications we expertise appear much less a consequence of colonialism than of a state authoritarianism which carries the beginnings of fascism.

The piece is co-created by the humanities charity Coney and Rhianna Ilube, together with writers and recreation designers Tsitsi Mareika Chirikure, Chloe Mashiter and malakaï sergeant. Jyuddah Jaymes performs a DJ who will get the sport going; Ewa Dina poses as a neighbour who visits after we first transfer in; and Chusi Amorós delivers publish containing directions. Underneath the route of Tatenda Shamiso, they continue to be amenable – even once they change into implicated in authoritarianism.

The tempo is sluggish within the first act, and we’re home-building for too lengthy. However then when indicators of repression seem, directions come too thick and quick and the strain is simply not turned up sufficient. As a result of this a part of the sport is stopped earlier than any severe confrontation, what we expertise appears unfinished and approximate.

Chusi Amorós delivers directions in 1884. {Photograph}: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

It’s gratifying nonetheless to see that our room resists the repressive measures. We kind a union and disrupt an official assembly. All however one “household” rises up on this method, however the stakes by no means really feel very excessive as we make our protests, and we aren’t given the larger historic context which might allow us to really feel a way of hazard.

The brief second act brings a dramatic shift and would possibly profit from being longer. Now the themes of this present change into clearer – from how the historical past of western oppression will get “cleaned up” and mythologised, to the query of who writes the narrative. The 1884 convention is lastly talked about, albeit not in any nice element, and the reflection on its outcomes is temporary. We see, in miniature, how authoritarianism grows and the way historical past is rewritten, however these factors are generic and much too gently made. We don’t stroll away feeling the outrage, or the concern, that we must always.

At Shoreditch City Corridor, London, till 27 April


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