Theatre Review: The Suit @ The Young Vic

By BelindaL Last edited 80 months ago
Theatre Review: The Suit @ The Young Vic

Strange suitor: Nonhlanhla Kheswa in The Suit

The Suit wears its complexities lightly. On the surface it’s a sort of fun and funny adult’s Aesop’s fable – ‘the woman who cheated on her husband and was made to care for her lover’s suit’ – but at its heart is a deep well of trouble and sadness. Co-directed by Peter Brook, he of Lord of the Flies and theatre bible The Empty Space fame, it’s also a chance to see a legend’s work in action.

In Sofiatown, a poor township of Jo’burg, South Africa, music and laughter thrive despite the oppressive Apartheid regime. Happy couple Philemon and Matilda's (themselves quite fable-like names) lives turn sour when she’s caught in bed with another man and, when the rumbled lover leaves in panic in his underpants, Philemon cooks up a crazily cruel plan. Matilda must care for the discarded suit as an honoured house guest, feeding it meals and accompanying it on walks. It’s funny but there’s also a shame and torturous element captured subtly by actress Nonhlanhla Kheswa, fitting with a play that doesn’t shove its feelings down your throat but rather lets a gentle sadness permeate.

Music adds to the storytelling feel and general joy of the township. Musicians are used imaginatively as extras in scenes as well as providing delightful sound effects, a thrum of the guitar to suggest a phone being picked up and such like. Kheswa, actress and also one time Lion King star and Wyclef Jean vocalist, had us transported with songs including a soulful Tanzanian ballad and a Nina Simone classic.

A happy sad tale, The Suit rockets along making its 90 minutes short, skilful and sweet.

The Suit is part of World Stages London and shows at the Young Vic until 16 June, tickets £10-£29.50.

Last Updated 26 May 2012