The Suitcase at Hull Truck Theatre is both humorous and heartfelt

Published: Wednesday 6th September 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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Running until this Saturday, The Suitcase is a powerful tale of hope, desperation and fate.

Created by The Market Theatre of Johannesburg, known as “Theatre of the Struggle”, this 90-minute show follows the tale of a newly married couple as they leave their rural village.

Arriving in the city of Durban, where they immediately spot a “flying machine” and are disoriented by the hustle and bustle, the pair receives advice and the unmissable offer a place to stay by a fellow former villager.

With somewhere to live and the confidence that a job will arise quickly, their goal is to finally return home wealthy and empowered. However, the husband, Timi, soon finds that work is very hard to come by, and that many are far from willing to show even a scrap of sympathy.

Still, Timi does get to meet some real characters on his search for any type of employment. From smiley workers to affable drunkards, Durban truly is a far cry from what he was used to back in his small village.

As the days turn to weeks and the weeks to months, Timi becomes increasingly desperate and begins to lose hold of his moral compass. Finding himself sat on the bus with an abandoned suitcase by his leg, he decides to take the chance and keep it for himself.

Darting through the streets to get home to his wife, Timi has no idea what is inside the suitcase, only that it could change everything. Living in a tiny rented room with barely any possessions and measly savings, we can understand why he chooses to commit the crime, simultaneously pitying him as the story unravels.

The Suitcase is equally uplifting and disheartening, especially when you consider that it’s based on a true story. The show’s director, James Ngcobo, believed that this touching tale had to be shared, resulting in a production that brings the vivid styles of African storytelling to the UK City of Culture.

Accompanying the cast are three female singers, who add to the atmosphere beautifully. Their soulful lyrics integrate perfectly with the tale, transporting the audience to 1950s South Africa and offering a flavour of this strange and turbulent time.

 

With a relatively sparse stage that actually enhances the ambience of poverty and squalor, this wonderful and charming show is at many times laugh-out-loud funny, yet there are numerous moments that could very well bring a tear to your eye.

You can catch The Suitcase at Hull Truck Theatre nightly at 7:30pm until this Saturday, as well as a 2pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are priced £12-£22.50 and can be purchased by calling the box office on 01482 323638, or you can book online.

Photography: Andrew Billington

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Published: Wednesday 6th September 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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