As theatrical metaphors go, the equating of psychological ‘baggage’ to physical suitcases is one of the more straight-forward examples, yet that is not to decry the effectiveness or necessary bluntness of the images thus created by the young Stage 32 company. Key to their exploration of Vermont’s foster care system in general, Baggage delves into the varied and individual lives and stories of a host of disenfranchised youths.

Thought-provoking and eye-opening in no small measure but, in terms of driving change, perhaps we are too generously let off the hook and remain, heartbreakingly, all too passive.

The cast creates a busy, swirling environment from the very moment we step into the space as they roam around, apparently lost; we must almost brush shoulders with them as we find our seats. This is deliberately alienating – for a few early moments it is we who are the unknown entities in a system of which we have no knowledge, it is we who are scrutinised by dozens of pairs of eyes. Having felt this way so soon, our disposition towards sympathy for the situations of the characters is set.

There are some cleverly constructed images throughout the piece which stick in the mind. We have the lone violin player whose occasional slips remind us that things do go wrong, the faceless fosterers whose good intentions may be invisible to the children they meet, characters almost hidden by bags, bags which only one character has the capacity to lift, balloons which crudely suggest simply ‘letting go’ – each image adds to the previous ones to gradually enforce the company’s viewpoint on personal difficulties.

Structurally akin to A Chorus Line, the emotional heart of Baggage lies within the honestly drawn snapshots of character. Dealing with difficult themes, the cast embraces the challenge and there are some genuinely poignant moments. Amongst many other high points, Tillie Quattrone’s portrayal of a conflicted mother is tragic in her ultimately futile attempts to cling on to her ‘baggage’, whereas Marissa Mattogno as Charlotte recounts her tale with clarity and spark. Aven Williams’ surly Kelley says little but is symbolic of much thanks to her focused performance.

Yes, the piece is at times a little didactic and occasionally strays into oversentimentality. The greatest missed opportunity here though is in the releasing of the audience from those initial moments of discomfort. We become relaxed in our expectation of the continuation of the soon established structure of personal account after personal account – though each is certainly told uniquely and with an array of theatrical tools. Thought-provoking and eye-opening in no small measure but, in terms of driving change, perhaps we are too generously let off the hook and remain, heartbreakingly, all too passive. 

Reviews by Joshua Clarke


A Gentleman's Game

Assembly George Square Theatre

How to Win Against History

Assembly Roxy

A Streetcar Named Desire

C venues - C nova

A Number by Caryl Churchill


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

From the free spirit state of Vermont, home of the Bread and Puppet Theater Company, comes the original play Baggage which exposes the hardships and triumphs of young people in the foster care system searching for a place to call home. Told with puppetry and mask, movement, music and spectacle, this gritty story will leave you with a vision of Vermont as more than just ski resorts, cows, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Most Popular See More

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £32.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £54.00

More Info

Find Tickets