The Secret Life of Suitcases
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 22nd Aug 2015
  • |
  • ★★★★★

There are some shows that you just get a good feeling about from the moment you step into the theatre. With its quirky pipes-and-cases semi-industrial set, The Secret Life of Suitcases is one of those shows.

This isn’t just excellent children’s theatre, it’s excellent theatre full-stop.

Moments later, the performers stride on stage and my anticipation is confirmed as Samuel Jameson pulls out a Quark (the furry Pac-Man-like puppets which narrate the show) and begins to set the scene. He introduces our hero Larry, beautifully puppeted and voiced by Ailie Cohen. Larry is a conscientious but slightly dull and fussy man, always so busy at his desk that he has no time for fun. Until, that is, someone leaves a suitcase by his door; a suitcase which, when opened, starts him off on the journey to discover the true meaning of life.

Throughout, the show is packed with delightful touches like the soberly-suited performers removing their jackets to reveal a backdrop for each new scene or the suitcases coming to glorious life. The use of puppetry naturally helps keep the younger audience’s attention but it’s also done incredibly skillfully – Cohen, in particular, invests the simple rod and ball puppet that is Larry with such humanity and character that it’s impossible not to empathise with him throughout his journey.

What's particularly charming is that, although this is a show for youngish children, it never talks down to them. Advanced ideas and themes are woven throughout the story. Quarks aren't just called that because it sounds funny – they really are everywhere and everything; quantum engineers, tasked with ensuring that everything in the universe gets just the push it needs at the right time to help reality run like clockwork.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is by no means small but The Secret Life of Suitcases held every child (and every adult) present rapt with attention. This isn’t just excellent children’s theatre, it’s excellent theatre full-stop.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Larry works in an office and he likes it very much. He likes sorting and tidying and generally putting things in order. Everything in its place, a place for everything. But one day, a suitcase suddenly appears at his door. A suitcase with Larry’s name on it. And this suitcase has a mission... Join Larry as his world gets turned upside down by a fantastical flying suitcase in this funny and enchanting show. ‘Completely delightful’ **** (Scotsman). ‘A fantastical life changing journey’ **** (Herald). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com