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REVIEW: The Suitcase at Newcastle Northern Stage

Life In The Big City

The Market Theatre Johannesburg presents
The Suitcase
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 16th September 2017

Adapted and Directed by James Ngcobo from a short story by Es’kia Mphahlele
Featuring live music composed and written by Hugh Masekela

It has been 5 years since the Market Theatre, based in Johannesburg has been on these shores. The Suitcase is a production which is vibrant and heart-felt. The addition of beautiful music from composer Hugh Masekela is the icing on the cake.

Based upon a true story and set in the 1950s, a young couple leave the safe confines of their village and head to a big city. Arrival in Durban is a shock to their senses but they meet Mlotshwa (Molatlhegi Desomnd Dube) who offers a room and some advice. With a child on the way Timi (Siyabonga Caswell Thwala) is keen to seek work and help build sound financial foundations for his young family. Timi insists his wife Namhla (Masasa Lindiwe Mbangeni) stays at home and builds the nest.

The tale of the couple works because there is a recognisable chemistry between the main protagonists. Add in the humour from the talkative Pitso (Nhlanhla John Lata) and supportive Mlotshwa and you have an engrossing plot that went down well with the Northern Stage crowd on opening night.

This show also featured live music which was written by the popular South African jazz artist and freedom fighter Hugh Masekela. Guitarist Bhekisisa Sifiso Makhosonke Khoza is accompanied by 3 singers who fill the venue with sounds that are sympathetic to the action on stage. 

The evenly paced direction from Sibongeleni James Ngcobo coupled with a show that runs for 90 minutes with no interval ensured we stayed in the grip of the action.

This show is touring as a result of collaboration between a number of northern theatres and this has to be welcomed if it is going to bring in high quality productions such as this.  The show is only in town for a short run but it is worth seeking out.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Tickets and performance details:
Fri 15 Sept, 7.30pm
Sat 16 Sept, 2pm & 7.30pm
Tickets from £10
Tickets and Information:0191 230 5151 or online from

Then touring to Derby Theatre (20-23 September), The Dukes, Lancaster(27-29 September) and Liverpool Playhouse (4-7 October)

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