In The Suit we see the deconstruction of a marriage amongst the societal crumblings that were Apartheid-era South Africa. In an excellent production that is directed, adapted, and composed by Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne, and Franck Krawczyk. We also witness the damage of adultery and its soul-wrenching repercussions. It is based on the novel of the same name by Can Themba.
The Suit is a moving production that will sting your senses and remind you of how a theater experience can turn a painful story to something close to sublime being.
The Suit features the exquisite performances of Ivanno Jeremiah and Nonhlanhla Kheswa playing the troubled married couple, Philemon and Matilda, respectively. At first their marriage is shining and strong. A doting Philemon brings her breakfast in bed before he leaves for work every day. On his commute to work one morning, he learns that she is carrying on an affair with another man. He rushes home to find her in bed with that man and pretends not to see him running off in his underwear.
The man leaves behind his suit. From then on, a betrayed and angry Philemon forces Matilda to carry on her affair with the suit. She must feed it and keep it company. In one breathtaking moment alone, she dances with the suit. She still strives to maintain a happy life, but at every turn she is reminded of her infidelity.
The sparse, but colorful, set allows for the story to breathe like a resting beast.
The Suit is a fable for the shameful past of South Africa. It is one of oppression, persecution, dominance, guilt, and heartbreak. A jarring rendition of “Strange Fruit” brings the story’s lessons close to the American experience. Within the relationship between Philemon and Matilda we witness all of these vainglorious transgressions muddled with emotional domestic violence.
A subdued and sweet Matilda, who is writhing in her guilt, screams out in beautiful Swahili song for release. Yet, the ghost of her betrayal and all of its shame that consumes the vengeful Philemon seethes just under the skin, the suit of promise lost.
The Suit runs through April 9th at Seattle Repertory Theater in Lower Queen Anne. Tickets are still available and you can purchase them here. Seattle Repertory Theatre is located at 155 Mercer Street, Seattle, WA